Evacuation Orders Issued for Khan Younis

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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The IDF has issued renewed evacuation orders for areas in eastern Khan Younis, in the southern Gaza Strip. Thousands of civilians have evacuated, including from the European Hospital, as fears grow of a seemingly impending ground invasion of the city.

Another Evacuation

Approximately 250,000 civilians have now fallen under evacuation orders by the IDF as they prepare for expanded operations in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second-largest city. Thousands of civilians, many of whom have been displaced before, have now been instructed to evacuate to the Al-Mawasi ‘humanitarian zone,’ which covers the coastal area of Al-Mawasi, as well as western areas of Khan Younis.

The new evacuation order given borders this humanitarian zone. Areas of Rafah, in the very south of Gaza, are still under evacuation as Israel continues operations there.

Within the new evacuation zone lies the European Hospital. Not only is the hospital one of the few that remain in Khan Younis, but it is one of the last that had remained operational in the entirety of Gaza.

The IDF specifically stated that the European Hospital was not subject to evacuation, and would be permitted to continue operation. However, sources within the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) have claimed that patients are being evacuated to other hospitals within the humanitarian zone.

Further, the Gaza Government Media Office has claimed the hospital has been evacuated as well, with the hospital now out of service.

The Government Media Office also issued a condemnation of attacks against medical workers and facilities within Gaza. Their full statement may be read below:

The Government Media Office:

Israel forced the European Hospital east of Khan Younis to evacuate and go out of service, causing a humanitarian catastrophe that exacerbates the health crisis in Gaza in an unprecedented manner and threatens the lives of thousands of patients and the injured.

Israel’s targeting of hospitals in Gaza is part of Israel’s crimes against hospitals, carried out deliberately and intentionally according to a premeditated plan aimed at creating a humanitarian and health crisis in the Gaza Strip.

Israel has taken 34 hospitals out of service, with the latest being the European Hospital.

We affirm that the international community’s failure to take a strong and decisive stance against Israel’s storming of hospitals, taking them out of service, and targeting them with shelling and missiles is what has encouraged it to continue its crimes against the health sector. This has resulted in the execution of more than 500 medical staff and the arrest of 310 others so far, in addition to the crimes of targeting and storming medical facilities and centers.

We hold Israel and the US administration, as an actual partner in this aggression, as well as the international community, fully responsible for the continuation of these massacres and crimes against the health sector, hospitals, medical staff, the injured, and patients.”

The evacuation of civilians has been extremely difficult. The supreme lack of fuel that permeates throughout the strip has forced many to walk to the humanitarian zone, or transport themselves and their belongings on animal drawn carts; a scene that has been witnessed in many different areas of Gaza.

A photo showing civilians evacuating from the south Gaza city of Khan Younis on July 2nd, 2024 (Photo from Mohammed Salem/Reuters).

With the evacuation orders issued, Israeli forces are likely to begin ground operations within the next day. In previous instances, Israel’s operations have followed soon after evacuation orders are given, such as in Rafah, where operations began 15 hours after evacuation orders had been given.

Short Lived Victory

Israel had previously withdrawn from Khan Younis on April 7th, after claiming to have “destroyed” the “Hamas battalions” that resided there. Following Israel’s withdrawal from the city, civilians were permitted to return.

Most did not return to Khan Younis until May, after the IDF began ordering the evacuation of civilians within Rafah, where 1.4 million civilians were sheltering, to the humanitarian zone in Al-Mawasi and Khan Younis. While Khan Younis had been declared a humanitarian zone, much of it was in ruins from previous Israeli operations.

A photo of Palestinian civilians walking amidst damaged and destroyed buildings in the southern Gaza city of Khan Younis on April 7th, 2024, after Israel had withdrawn from the territory (Photo from Ismael Abu Dayyah/AP).

Although Israel had claimed to have destroyed the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) presence in the city, the PIJ had recently fired 20 rockets at Israel from eastern Khan Younis.

Israel’s impending operation in the city is likely to be focused on clearing remaining holdouts, in particular any remaining launch sites.

Notably, Israel’s re-entry into Khan Younis is not the first time they have had to revisit areas of previous operations.

In recent weeks, Israel resumed operations in several areas of northern Gaza, in particular in and around the Jabalia refugee camp.

Israel continually returning to previous areas of operation has raised questions as to the effectiveness of their initial operations against Hamas militants, particularly as Israel had previously claimed to have control over these areas.

The IDF’s impending operation in Khan Younis comes just over a week after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed that Israel’s operations in Gaza were winding down. The Khan Younis operation signals that the PM’s claims may not be entirely true or that Israel has changed an internal calculus.