Minnesota Democratic Representative Ilhan Omar on Friday claimed that Israel’s warning to evacuate northern Gaza in only 24 hours was a form of “ethnic cleansing,” adding that she believes it will cause “an unspeakable humanitarian crisis.”
The land, air and sea attack on October 7 by Islamist militant group Hamas was the deadliest Palestinian militant barrage on Israel in history, with Israel then waging its most lethal airstrikes ever on Gaza.
Israel’s military “will continue to operate significantly” in Gaza, Axios shared on X, formerly Twitter, citing the Israel Defense Forces’ evacuation warning, with the news outlet following up with a post saying that Israel told the United Nations to evacuate the northern Gaza Strip within 24 hours.
Omar called out Israel on X: “The mass expulsion of over 1 million people in a day is ethnic cleansing.
“The UN has already said this is ‘impossible’ and will have ‘devastating humanitarian consequences,'” the congresswoman said. “We have to stop ignoring the thousands of Palestinian lives lost and millions at stake! We must use all diplomatic tools stop this.”
Ethnic cleansing is defined by the UN as “… a purposeful policy designed by one ethnic or religious group to remove by violent and terror-inspiring means the civilian population of another ethnic or religious group from certain geographic areas.”
In a follow-up post, Omar explained why she believes a 24-hour evacuation is “impossible,” noting that it will cause “an unspeakable humanitarian crisis.”
“First, many Palestinians are already wounded, displaced and/or caring for a sick or injured relative, child or senior. They can’t simply pick up and leave,” she said. “With communications and electricity shut down by Israel, the order cannot be communicated. Roads are bombed and many cars are out of fuel, making fleeing impossible for many.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said his country is “at war” and has cut off supplies of food, fuel, electricity and medicine into Gaza.
Omar added in her follow-up post that southern Gaza cannot hold an additional 1.1 million people and that there has been no announcement of a “pause in hostilities” to give residents cover while evacuating.
“The mass expulsion of over a million civilians is a grave violation of international law, and not justified under any circumstances. Our common humanity demands we stop it,” Omar said.
Ethnic cleansing is not recognized as an independent crime under international law, according to the UN.
While Omar has been a vocal critic of Israel for what she describes as human rights abuses against Palestinians, she also condemned Hamas’ attack.
“We need to call for deescalation and ceasefire,” Omar said on X. “I will keep advocating for peace and justice throughout the Middle East.”
As of Friday, at least 1,300 people had been killed in Israel, the Associated Press (AP) reported, citing Israel’s government, as well as more than 1,800 killed in Gaza, according to officials there, according to AP.
Newsweek reached out to Israel’s Ministry of Defense via email for comment on Friday.