November 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Residents of Hamas Stronghold In Southern Gaza Urged to Evacuate

November 18, 2023 | Flash Brief

Residents of Hamas Stronghold In Southern Gaza Urged to Evacuate

Latest Developments

The Israeli military dropped leaflets over the eastern neighborhoods of Gaza’s biggest southern city, Khan Younis, on November 16, urging residents to evacuate and move to the area of al-Mawasi in southwestern Gaza. Khan Younis is one of many known Hamas strongholds in southern Gaza, where the terrorist group is estimated to have thousands of fighters. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) dropped flyers in targeted neighborhoods indicating that it Israeli forces are preparing to operate in southern Gaza. The IDF dropped similar flyers in northern Gaza ahead of the October 27 ground invasion.

Expert Analysis

“The IDF has been successful in northern Gaza. While there have been painful losses on the battlefield, the casualty rate has been reasonably low. Many Hamas fighters have presumably fled south, either taking advantage of the humanitarian corridors or finding subterranean routes. The IDF knows its job is far from over; it will meet fierce resistance in the south, which is now dense with evacuees, creating challenging battle conditions.” Enia Krivine, Senior Director of FDD’s Israel Program and National Security Network

“While our attention has been solely placed on northern Gaza for weeks, we can’t forget the Hamas leadership and infrastructure in both central and southern Gaza. The IDF knows it needs to give people time to evacuate before launching the next phase of its operations. But given the population flow we’ve seen from north to south, we may see very different military tactics employed to minimize civilian casualties while targeting key Hamas leaders.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Israel Has Urged Gazans to Evacuate for Over a Month

Since October 13, Israel has repeatedly called — in Hebrew, English, and Arabic — on civilians in northern Gaza to move south of the Gaza River for their safety. An Israeli journalist in Gaza on November 16 reported that hundreds of Palestinians are utilizing Israeli-protected humanitarian corridors to flee south. Israel has continued to urge civilians to move to safer territory, dropping flyers, circulating messages on social media, and calling individuals over the phone.

Hamas Attempts to Block Gazans Traveling to Safety

Hamas uses civilians in Gaza as human shields and has attempted to prevent civilians from fleeing to safer terrain. According to reports, mosques in Gaza have broadcast messages for civilians to stay put. Hamas leader Ismael Haniyeh asserted on October 14 that the people of Gaza will remain in place. That same day, the IDF published intelligence and imagery asserting that Hamas established a roadblock on Gaza’s major artery, preventing civilians from reaching shelter in southern Gaza. Earlier this month, disturbing footage of dead civilians strewn along a thoroughfare in Gaza, allegedly killed by Hamas, likely added to Gazans’ fear of fleeing the north.

Israel Dismantles Hamas Naval Commando Training Facility,” FDD Flash Brief

Hold Hamas Accountable for Human-Shields Use During the May 2021 Gaza War,” by Orde Kittrie

How Congress can fight Hamas’s use of human shields,” by Orde Kittrie and Matthew Zweig


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