Almost 500,000 Israelis have been displaced by the war, an Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said on Tuesday.
“There are about half a million internally displaced Israelis at the time,” Lt. Col. (res.) Jonathan Conricus said during a briefing for reporters.
More than 20 communities near the Gaza Strip have been evacuated as the army gears up for a ground offensive.
Another 28 communities within two kilometers of the Lebanese border have also been evacuated. In recent days, Hezbollah has fired anti-tank rockets into Israel.
The evacuations come on the heels of an Oct. 7 assault by Hamas on Israeli communities near the Gaza border that caught Israelis off-guard. Fighting raged for days as the IDF initially struggled to clear out the terrorists. Terrorists have killed more than 1,400 Israelis and wounded 4,100 others. At least 199 hostages were taken to Gaza.
Meanwhile, the IDF killed four people trying to infiltrate Israel from Lebanon on Tuesday morning. And in Metula, Israel’s northernmost town, an anti-tank rocket fired from Lebanon wounded three people. IDF tanks fired in response towards the source of the fire.
The army declared Metula a closed military zone and ordered the remaining residents there, and in the city of Kiryat Shmona, to enter bomb shelters until further notice.
Israeli communities that took in people from border towns are facing a shortage of doctors, pharmacists and mental-health professionals, experts and evacuees told the Knesset Health Committee on Tuesday.
One woman who was evacuated from Kibbutz Nahal Oz near Gaza to Kibbutz Mishmar HaEmek in the Jezreel Valley told lawmakers there weren’t enough doctors to deal with the sudden increase of residents.
Nachi Katz, CEO of Kedem‒The Association for Promoting Seniors Housing Communities in Israel, which represents nursing homes and assisted-living facilities, warned of a shortage of nurses and security guards.
Gadi Yarkoni, chairman of the Eshkol Regional Council, whose area of jurisdiction is adjacent to the southern Gaza Strip, stressed the need to treat trauma victims, noting that in some of the communities he represents, a quarter of the residents were either murdered, kidnapped or still missing.
Yarkoni also urged that preparations be made for the return of hostages being held by Hamas in the Strip.
Dr. Michael Shapiro, who is in charge of emergency medicine in Ashkelon, located eight miles north of the Gaza Strip, pointed to a shortage of pharmacists in the cities to which residents were evacuated.