Thousands of Gazans head north, in potential challenge to IDF’s campaign after truce

T. Belman. Cabinet and the IDF and security forces recommended this exchange. It is incumbent on them to prevent the Gazans returning. So far, they haven’t prevented it. That means the hostage deal is as bad as many are saying. This is the litmas test.

Hasmas has also renegged on commitment to allow Red Cross to visit remaining hostages.

2 reported killed as Hamas encourages civilians to go back to war zone; IDF drops flyers, tries to prevent flow; 13 hostages to be freed at 4 p.m.; humanitarian aid enters Gaza


Palestinians who had taken refuge in temporary shelters return to their homes in eastern Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip during the first hours of a four-day truce between Israel and Hamas on November 24, 2023. (Mahmud Hams/ AFP)

As Israel’s four-day truce with Hamas came into effect in Gaza on Friday morning, thousands of people who had fled to areas near Gaza’s border with Egypt were seeking to return to their villages with children and pets in their arms and their belongings loaded onto donkey carts or car roofs.

Overnight Thursday-Friday, Hamas urged Gazans to return to the north of the Strip, where the IDF has focused its ground offensive for the past three weeks. The truce deal, under which the Gaza-governing Hamas terror group is set to free 50 Israeli hostages over four days from Friday, bars Gazans from returning to the north of the Strip.

Having dropped flyers warning Gazans against doing so, Israeli troops were reported to be using riot dispersal measures inside the Strip on Friday in order to prevent people from moving north and complicating Israel’s declared determination to resume its war to destroy Hamas at the end of the truce.

AP reported on Friday afternoon that Israeli troops fatally shot two Palestinians and wounded 11 others as they headed toward the main combat zone in northern Gaza despite the IDF warnings to stay put. There was no immediate comment from the IDF.

Thousands, if not tens of thousands, were moving north by early afternoon, Israeli military experts said, even though they generally have no homes to go back to in the war zone.

The IDF had vowed to prevent Palestinians from returning to northern Gaza from its south during the truce.

Hamas is trying to encourage many of the hundreds of thousands of Gazans who evacuated south to return, said retired general Israel Ziv, a former head of IDF operations, in order to “completely disrupt” Israel’s military campaign to destroy the Gaza-ruling terror group.

“Hamas has no problem sacrificing all the residents of Gaza, as it has proved,” said Ziv.

Ziv said he expected Hamas to intensify this effort over the four planned days of the truce, presenting “a very complex challenge” as the IDF seeks to resume the campaign when the halt in fighting is over.

So far, he said, the IDF was using “limited force” to try to prevent Gazans from returning to the north of the Strip.

A senior officer in the IDF Southern Command said Friday afternoon that troops would respond to any attempt at harming them amid the ceasefire, while the army spends its time preparing for the resumption of the fighting.

“Anyone who poses a threat to our forces will be hit. The security of our forces is a top priority; that’s how we behaved and that’s how we will continue to behave,” the officer said. “We are preparing to continue attacking with all our strength immediately after the end of the truce.”

On Thursday, the commander of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Yaron Finkelman, was in the northern Gaza Strip with troops to assess the deployment of forces on the temporary ceasefire lines and approve operational plans.

In southern Gaza on Friday, the din of war was replaced by the horns of traffic jams and sirens of ambulances making their way through crowds emerging from hospitals in southern Gaza where they had taken refuge.

In Khan Younis, Palestinians loaded their belongings onto carts, strapped them to car roofs, or slung bags over their shoulders, crowding streets to return to their homes in the city’s east after leaving temporary shelters.

November 24, 2023 | 3 Comments »

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  1. Israel will still be held responsible for any casualties. Hamas will squeeze this situation to get the most out of it, including smuggling in fighters to places of interest. IDF needs to keep these people out of the areas that fighting is still going on. Hamas is likely to fire rockets on them while stating that they are shooting at the IDF.

  2. The people of Gaza are the responsibility of Hamas. Israel needs to give that message loud and clear to the world. This is a war that Hamas started. Hamas needs to keep their own people safe. Otherwise Hamas, not Israel will be committing war crimes against their own people. Israel has already taken more precautions than any other army takes, and can do no more than that.

    The State of Israel cannot be held responsible for these people, and anyone holding Israel responsible is an enemy of the State of Israel. Holding Israel responsible is anti-Israel and antisemitic slander.