Death Toll Rises to 2,800 as Israel Warns Gaza Residents to Flee

Written by Benjamin Adewumi

Israel has warned 1.1 million residents of Gaza to leave their homes or face a ground invasion, as the death toll in the Middle East conflict reached about 3,000.

The Israel Defense Forces spokesman said 1,300 people, including 247 soldiers, had been killed on the Israeli side, while the Palestinian Health Ministry said at least 1,537 people, including 500 children, had been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli airstrikes.

Thousands more are injured on both sides.

Observers fear the situation could worsen if Israel carries out its threat to launch a ground operation against Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls Gaza.

Hamas, however, rejected the Israeli ultimatum and vowed to fight back.

“We will not be expelled from our homes again. We will resist Israel’s attempt to ethnically cleanse Gaza,” it said.

It added: “We are determined to prevent a second Nakba from happening. Israel is trying to forcibly remove the Palestinian people from their land. Israel has declared its intention to commit genocide against Palestinians.

“Israel has dropped more than 6,000 bombs on Gaza in the past week. Nearly 500 children have been killed by the Israeli bombardment. Israel has targeted mosques, a church, schools, homes, and hospitals. Yet we are the ones who are called terrorists. Today, we have seen millions of people in the Arab and Muslim world supporting the brave Palestinians in Gaza.

“What Israel is doing is inhuman, unprecedented, barbaric and violates all the laws and treaties that the so-called free and democratic countries claim to uphold.

“But we will not give up our legitimate struggle for freedom and self-determination. We will either live with dignity or die fighting.”

Many Gazans defied the Israeli warning and stayed put.

“I prefer death to leaving,” said Mohammad, 20, standing near a building that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike two days ago in central Gaza.

“I was born here and I will die here. Leaving is a disgrace,” he said.

Protests erupt around the world

Muslims around the world staged protests after yesterday Jumat in solidarity with Palestinians over the deadly conflict that started last Saturday when Hamas attacked Israel with rockets.

From Iraq to Japan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, tens of thousands of protesters marched and expressed their support for Palestinians. They burned Israeli and American flags and chanted slogans against Israel.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken met Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday. He is also expected to visit Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates – some of the countries that have influence on Hamas, which is backed by Iran.

Iran’s foreign minister met Hezbollah leader Hassan Nassrallah in Lebanon, where there have been clashes with Israel along the border since the weekend, according to Lebanese media reports.

“Iran will respond to Israel’s war crimes against Palestine and Gaza through its allies,” Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian said.

New York police on high alert over planned protest

The New York Police Department (NYPD) issued a red alert yesterday following reports of a planned protest by pro-Palestinians over the situation in the Middle East.

The NYPD Chief Rebecca Weiner said at a press conference yesterday morning that all officers had been ordered to report to work in their uniforms.

She said even those who were supposed to be off duty had been called to work, adding that the measure was to ensure increased police presence across the city

The police chief said there was no specific credible threat in the city but the increased police presence was to reassure the public amid fears of violence from the planned protest.

Police said every officer would be in uniform and ready to respond if needed. They said thousands of officers had been deployed to Times Square as well as schools and religious institutions.

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