Israeli army tells all Gaza City residents to leave

France says Israeli strikes on Gaza schools ‘unacceptable’

GAZA CITY/ PARIS   -   The Israeli army on Wednesday dropped thousand of leaflets on Gaza City urging all residents to leave amid an intensified military offensive on the Palestinian territory’s main city, an AFP journalist said.

The leaflets, addressed to “everyone in Gaza City”, set out routes out of the city to designated safe areas further south and warned the urban area would “remain a dangerous combat zone” as the army hits alleged Hamas targets.

Israel issued a first formal evacuation order for part of the city on June 27, and two more in following days.

In the leaflet drop, the army said residents would be able to take two safe roads “quickly and without inspection from Gaza City to shelters in Deir Al-Balah and Al-Zawiya”.

Following the October 7 Hamas attacks, Israel said in January that it had “dismantled” the militant group’s “military structure” in the northern city. Tens of thousands more residents have already fled Gaza City since troops launched the latest offensive in the city’s eastern Shujaiya district and ground battles have since raged.

The two latest orders covered central and western districts where tanks and troops have move in this week. The army also said its forces had attacked militants inside Gaza City’s vacated headquarters of the UN agency for Palestinians, UNRWA.

Strikes have also hit Deir Al-Balah, an area where Palestinians have been urged to move to for safety.

The United Nations on Tuesday expressed alarm at Israel’s evacuation orders, saying they tell Palestinians to go to zones where there is fighting. France on Wednesday condemned Israel’s recent deadly air strikes on schools sheltering displaced Palestinians in Gaza, declaring such tactics “unacceptable”.

“We call for these strikes to be fully investigated,” the foreign ministry said, highlighting a strike on Tuesday on a school near the southern city of Khan Yunis.

“It is unacceptable that schools, especially those housing civilians displaced by the fighting, should be targeted,” the ministry statement said.

“We call on Israel to do its utmost to protect civilians in the conduct of military operations and to fully respect international humanitarian law, in particular the principles of proportionality and distinction.”