Hamas is telling Gazan civilians to ignore calls by the Israel Defense Forces to evacuate northern Gaza because it wants human shields to protect its military infrastructure, the Israel Defense Forces said on Friday.
The remarks, by IDF Spokesman Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, came after the IDF called for all civilians in Gaza City to evacuate “and move to the area south of the Wadi Gaza.”
“The IDF provided this recommendation in Arabic social media, via international organizations, and conveyed this message through Gazan channels so that the people of Gaza can receive it in reliable ways. There is enough electricity in Gaza to deliver this message, and we know how to deliver it. Flyers, radio, telephone, via all possible [channels],” said Hagari.
The IDF statement warned Gaza residents not to approach the border with Israel, and not to return to Gaza City unless told to do so by the Israeli military.
However, said Hagari, Hamas is telling Gaza civilians to stay in harm’s way, “to use them as human shields.”
“Its logic is to maintain this population and keep it on its infrastructure, on tunnels,” said Hagari.
With Hamas terrorists hiding in and under residential buildings, the IDF is planning significant offensive strikes in the area. Hagari said the IDF was intensifying activities in northern Gaza.
“We understand it [the evacuation] will take time. It’s a war zone, and they are being instructed by Hamas not to do so [evacuate]. The sad reality is that Hamas is responsible,” he added. “The IDF continues to operate throughout Gaza and civilians should stay away from all Hamas activity. And stay away from the border fence.”
Hagari added that the IDF is examining, along with international partners, ways to avoid damage to sensitive civilian sites including hospitals.
However, he continued, “We have a terror organization that built its military infrastructure using hospitals, schools, mosques, using all those sites. We are fighting for our lives against a sovereign [in Gaza] that showed that its [Islamic State].”
Addressing international journalists, Hagari emphasized that “we are not fighting the people of Gaza, we are fighting the terrorist organization of Hamas, that is sovereign [in the Gaza Strip], which, as the U.S. president said, is worse than ISIS. We cannot continue to live with this rule, this sovereign of Hamas-ISIS near our borders.
“Like ISIS, it has no desire for life, economy, freedom, prosperity. You all know Israel brought Gazan workers to Israel for Gazan economy and prosperity. Israel wanted quiet. The only one who decided to change it is Hamas. It does not care about the security of the region and of the Gazan people. It has one desire: Death, brutality, for the people of Israel and the people of Gaza.
“It wants to murder civilians, not only Israelis but Americans and Europeans, who are now also in Gaza … being held hostage. This is a war crime, a crime against humanity. The IDF is strong and we will defend the State of Israel. We have no other state,” he said.
Israel is on full alert in the country’s north, and is providing detailed briefs to U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on the war in the south, said Hagari, including on Iranian activities in the region.
“Our strategic ally, the United States, is fully updated. The United States has its own forces [in the area],” he added.
‘Hamas uses civilian buildings for military purposes’
Asked by JNS about Egypt’s role in Gaza going forward, Hagari said: “We have connections with the Arab world, this is very important for Israel—Egypt, Jordan, Abraham Accord countries. We keep our connections with defense ministries and foreign ministries. We are in war, and we keep doing that.”
Earlier on Friday, the Israeli Air Force said it struck 750 military targets in the northern Gaza Strip overnight, striking Hamas tunnels, military compounds and posts, in addition to residences of senior terrorist operatives that serve as military command centers, weapons storage warehouses and communications rooms. It is also targeting senior terrorist operatives.
In parallel, IDF forces targeted three Hamas mortar specialists in a military command center in Gaza City, from which mortar shells were launched toward Israeli territory.
The IAF also struck on Friday dozens of rooftops in Gaza used by Hamas to launch unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Israeli military released video of the strikes, stating, “This is further proof Hamas deliberately uses civilian buildings for military purposes.”
Since Israel’s conflict with Hamas in May 2021, Hamas has heavily invested in developing its UAV fleet, with support from the Iranian regime.
Hagari also drew attention to the fact that large numbers of Israeli civilians are now internally displaced, having relocated to central areas from both the south and “other places.”
“Check the numbers. You’ll find the same numbers [of displaced people in Israel as in Gaza], maybe more. People are in shelters in Israel,” he said.