Israel is preparing for a ground assault in northern Gaza, causing thousands of Palestinians to flee the area following an evacuation order.
Evacuation in progress: Thousands of Palestinians are leaving northern Gaza in response to an Israeli military evacuation order.
* The order is in anticipation of Israel’s next counterattack focused on northern Gaza, the hub of Hamas activities.
* Israeli military spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus stated, “that is where most of the commanders are, most of their infrastructure and their ability to continue to operate.”
Impending assault: Israeli troops are “in formation” surrounding the Gaza Strip, preparing for the next stage of operations.
* Two main routes to leave Gaza remained open until 4 p.m. local time.
* The Rafah crossing in southern Gaza is open until 5 p.m. local time for Americans seeking to leave Gaza, according to a senior State Department official.
* It is estimated that between 500 and 600 Palestinian Americans live in Gaza, but the number seeking to leave is undetermined.
Growing tension: Israel’s planned counterattack is a response to a deadly attack by Hamas militants that left over 1,300 people dead in southern Israel.
* The Israeli military bombardment in response to the attack has left around 2,200 Palestinians dead.
* On Friday, the Israeli military conducted limited raids into the Gaza Strip in search of Israelis who have been kidnapped by Hamas.
Search results: Israeli forces have found bodies of several missing Israelis and items that could lead to more missing individuals.
* According to Israeli military spokesperson Daniel Hagari, troops also destroyed “terrorist infrastructure and squads, including a Hamas unit that fired anti-tank missiles toward Israel.”
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