Gaza on the Brink: Unpacking the Humanitarian Crisis Amidst Calls for Evacuation

An Israeli tank deploys with others along the border with the Gaza Strip.JACK GUEZ/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

In the face of escalating tensions in the Middle East, the United Nations (UN) and various humanitarian groups have urged Israel to reconsider its demand for civilians in Gaza to relocate to the south of the strip. This call comes amidst an Israeli offensive against Hamas militants, a situation that could have devastating consequences for over a million people1.

The Evacuation Order

The Israeli military has ordered more than 1.1 million Palestinians living in northern Gaza to evacuate to the southern part of the enclave within the next 24 hours8. This evacuation order comes ahead of an expected ground invasion in Gaza8. The Israeli military has informed the United Nations that the entire population of Gaza, north of Wadi Gaza, should relocate to southern Gaza within 24 hours, including UN staff and those sheltered in UN facilities34.

The Humanitarian Crisis

The evacuation order has been met with strong opposition from the UN and humanitarian groups, who warn of the devastating humanitarian consequences of such a move. The UN has stated that it is inconceivable for more than half of Gaza's population to traverse an active war zone, particularly while deprived of essential supplies and basic services34. The humanitarian system in Gaza is already at breaking point, with the infrastructure devastated by indiscriminate bombardments from air, land, and sea34.The situation is further complicated by the fact that more than two-thirds of internally displaced persons are sheltering in UNRWA schools, which are not fit for this purpose and have themselves been bombarded34. Over 1,400 Palestinians have been killed and more than 6,000 have been injured since the conflict escalated on October 7, leaving hospitals overwhelmed34. The World Health Organization has called the evacuation order an effective 'death sentence' for the sick34.

The evacuation order has been condemned as a crime against humanity and a blatant violation of international humanitarian law by UN experts34. Forcible population transfers constitute a crime against humanity, and collective punishment is prohibited under international humanitarian law34. The UN has called for the strict respect of international humanitarian law and its provisions, including unrestricted humanitarian access to those in need, the cessation of indiscriminate attacks against civilians, and an end to forced displacement of populations and blockade34.

The Human Impact

The evacuation order has sparked fear and panic among the residents of Gaza. Many have been searching for a secure place to take shelter from the bombings but have been unable to find one8. The evacuation order comes after 16 years of an Israeli land, air, and sea blockade in Gaza since Hamas took power in 20078. The blockade has left the region on the brink of a humanitarian crisis, with no food, water, gas, medicine, or electricity allowed in9.


The situation in Gaza is a complex and multifaceted issue, with deep historical roots and significant humanitarian implications. The current evacuation order and the potential for a ground invasion by Israel have only served to exacerbate an already dire situation. The international community, led by the UN, continues to call for a peaceful resolution to the conflict, in line with international law and humanitarian principles. However, as the situation continues to evolve, the future remains uncertain for the people of Gaza.