JERUSALEM: The Israeli military has published a map of what it called “evacuation zones” in the Gaza Strip, after international demands to create safe areas where civilians can shelter from devastating bombardments.
A truce pausing fighting between Israel and Hamas in the Palestinian territory expired on Friday, and hostilities resumed immediately, with Israeli forces bombarding several areas.
The map, which is in Arabic and zoomable on the military’s website, divides the Gaza Strip into hundreds of numbered sectors.
The military said it was intended to enable residents to “evacuate from specific places for their safety if required.”
Residents in multiple numbered areas were sent SMS warnings on Friday.
The Israeli forces “will begin a crushing military attack on your area of residence to eliminate the terrorist organization Hamas,” the warnings said, urging people to seek some shelter.
“Stay away from all military activity of every kind,” they added.
Around 10 minutes later the explosions started.
Mobile networks in the Gaza Strip can be slow, with SMS deliveries sometimes taking several minutes.
In its announcement, the military said Hamas “turns civilian sites into military targets while using civilians and civilian facilities as a human shield.”
The map was intended to enable residents “to orient themselves and understand the instructions, and to evacuate from specific places for their safety if required,” it added.
The military did not immediately respond when asked by AFP how much notice was given to residents before an assault.
During the first phase of the war, Israel urged civilians in the northern Gaza Strip to relocate to the southern part of the territory, but UN reports indicate that a third of those killed died south of the boundary line.