A Palestinian official has accused Israel of seeking to expand the scope of its military activities from north of the Gaza Strip towards the south.
Israel told civilians in the northern Gaza to move to the south of the enclave, saying it will be safer there as it launched attacks following the Oct. 7 cross border assault by Hamas. However, Israeli warplanes have hit sites in southern Gaza as well.
The Palestinian deputy foreign minister, Ahmed al-Deek, in an interview with Anadolu, said "there are indications of an Israeli desire to expand the areas it occupies in Gaza to the southern regions" as well.
Al-Deek said the move could "lead to a greater catastrophe for displaced civilians in Gaza," stressing that "the Israeli occupation authorities are trying, in one way or another, to evacuate the Palestinian population from the Gaza Strip."
He said the "aggression and war of extermination" launched by Israel against Gaza, which has killed more than 12,000 Palestinians, was "not limited to the northern Gaza Strip, but rather targeted all regions from the beginning."
"The occupation forces asked the displaced to go south, and then bombed them there. They carried out brutal bombing operations targeting Khan Yunis, Deir al-Balah, central and southern Gaza," the official added.
He said "we warned that the expansion of these attacks towards the center and south would mean more war crimes and massacres."
"We have warned the international community about this issue and called on the UN Security Council in particular, to assume its responsibility to stop this war," he added.
Commenting on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statements that Israel does not have any plans to re-establish Jewish settlements in Gaza, al-Deek said "the Palestinian Authority looks at what Israeli officials are doing on the ground, and not their statements."
"We judge Israel by what warplanes, tanks, and all internationally prohibited weapons that Israel uses against Palestinian citizens by air, sea, and land do," he said, adding: "What we see is that the Israeli occupation authorities are trying, in one way or another, to shift the Palestinian population from the Gaza Strip."
The Palestinian official said "the Israeli occupation authorities seek to get rid of all civilians who manage to leave the Gaza Strip, and ensure they do not return."
He described the war in Gaza as "brutal, barbaric and insane, targeting Palestinian civilians."
The official claimed "Israel is trying to demographically change the Gaza Strip by paralyzing all forms of civil life in the enclave."
The official said the Israeli government and his war Cabinet "fabricate misleading stories and campaigns," and that Netanyahu wants "comprehensive destruction of everything related to civilian life, including hospitals and all service institutions," in Gaza.
"This is the strategic dimension that the occupation authorities are trying to achieve. So they are in no hurry, they are trying to mislead world public opinion in to buy time to complete this genocide against the Palestinian citizens."
The Palestinian official "strongly condemned all countries that give the green light to Israel under the pretext of the right to self-defense, without setting limits on the scale of the response."
"The Israeli government interprets the self-defense argument as it pleases," he stressed.
Al-Deek said the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, expects the UN Security Council, especially "the countries that stand by Israel unconditionally," to put real pressure on Tel Aviv to stop "this crazy war."
Most of the Western countries have opposed growing calls for an Israeli cease-fire in Gaza, saying it has the right to defend itself, and a truce could give Hamas time to regroup.