Last week, Slate's William Saletan wrote that the Israel-Palestine conflict's effect on civilians may be unique in the history of warfare. Israel intentionally strikes civilian areas, but it claims it is only doing so to destroy facilities and material—and that it provides fair warning to residents that they should leave targeted areas. (Whether it always follows through on these practices is a matter of debate.) This situation is now being taken to an almost surreal extreme in Gaza, as Israel has warned 100,000 residents—more than 5 percent of the region's entire population—to immediately leave their homes or face death. From the New York Times:
The warnings, distributed by leaflets, automated telephone calls and text messages, were the broadest yet and advised people in northern towns as well as some neighborhoods of Gaza City to head south. “The I.D.F. does not want to harm you, and your families,” the leaflets said, using the abbreviation for the Israel Defense Forces. “Whoever disregards these instructions and fails to evacuate immediately endangers their own lives, as well as those of their families,” the warning added.
The leaflets, per the IDF:
Today we dropped these leaflets urging civilians to move away from Hamas targets before IDF strikes in Gaza. pic.twitter.com/K6JIcCnRfX— IDF (@IDFSpokesperson) July 16, 2014
"Hamas urged people to stay put," the Times says.
A Times reporter, in a fairly astounding act of journalistic bravery, appears to have walked around the area targeted for evacuation and destruction after the warning was issued. "The streets were emptier than normal," the paper says, "but a few children flew kites and some men sat in the shade."