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Israeli military extends evacuation order to whole of Gaza City

By Kareem Khadder, Ibrahim Dahman and Mohammad Al Sawalhi, CNN

(CNN) — The Israeli military expanded its evacuation order to the whole of Gaza City on Wednesday after sending tens of thousands of Palestinians fleeing from several of the city’s neighborhoods earlier this week.

It also issued a notice saying it will be suspending inspections along two roads in Gaza City, in the north of the Gaza Strip, to allow civilians to reach humanitarian zones more easily and quickly as the city “will remain a dangerous combat zone.”

“We announce to you that Tariq Bin Ziyad and Omar Al-Mukhtar Streets are considered safe passages to cross west to Al-Rashid (Al-Bahr) Street and from there south. Al-Wahda and Khalil Al-Wazir streets are considered safe passages to cross east to the Al-Zaytoun neighborhood and the city roundabout, and from there to Salah Al-Din Street to the south,” an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) flier dropped on the city said.

Gaza City experienced shelling overnight on Wednesday. A local journalist told CNN the building he was sheltering in had been struck, forcing him to move with his family once more.

Bakeries ‘completely closed’

Gaza’s Civil Defense spokesman Mahmoud Bassal told CNN he was aware of dozens of deaths in the industrial zone, east of Gaza City, and the financial hub in the center.

Bassal added that several Palestinians are besieged in the Jordanian hospital and at Al-Aqsa University in the city, as the situation remains dangerous.

“Today, suddenly, all bakeries in Gaza are completely closed. It seems that there are instructions for them to do so, or that they fall in the red zone,” he added.

Charity group Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, said on Wednesday that it was forced to shut its last health facility in northern Gaza after Israel’s evacuation order.

“Teams continued to provide patient care until the last minute, before fleeing the area that came under heavy fire,” MSF said on X.

Residents could be seen walking down Salah Al-Din Street from northern Gaza with their belongings. Some held white flags made of sticks and white shirts.

Baraa, a young man pushing a bicycle, said he was staying alone with his brother in northern Gaza, but “the situation became very difficult, there is no food.”

A woman from Shajaiya, one of Gaza City’s biggest neighborhoods, said the area had come under persistent shelling, adding that she saw many people dead in the streets.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) warned the directive for residents to leave Gaza City threatened to intensify the plight of already displaced communities.

The IDF has been issuing evacuation orders affecting large parts of Gaza City since Sunday, urging 250,000 residents to head to “safe zones” further south, in Deir al-Balah and al-Zawaida.

The IDF has said that evacuation orders are necessary so that civilians don’t get caught up in its renewed operations in areas where Hamas is seeking to re-establish a presence. The IDF insists it goes to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties.

Hamas has said the evacuations threaten to return negotiations for a ceasefire and hostage deal to “point zero.”

“Every day they would tell us to evacuate and we are displaced from one place to another while quadcaptors are shooting at us,” Mahmoud Al Shaqra, a resident of Gaza City, told CNN as he evacuated southwards.

“Gaza City is completely destroyed, it is unlivable,” Al Sharqa said. “There is no food or drink or anything here. There is no safety.”

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CNN’s Abeer Salman contributed to this report.

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