In advance of what is anticipated to be a ground assault into the Gaza Strip, Israel Defense Forces personnel helped in the voluntary evacuation of Sderot in the western Negev on Sunday morning.
The first Israeli city to see a state-assisted evacuation is Sderot, a 30,000-person municipality located about half a mile from the Gaza Strip.
In a huge offensive that began in Gaza on October 7, which included firing more than 6,600 rockets towards the Jewish state, the terrorist organization Hamas claimed responsibility for at least 1,400 Israeli deaths and more than 3,500 injuries. One of several Israeli communities taken over by terrorists was Sderot.
The city experienced 75 direct rocket hits in the following week, and the IDF anticipates more attacks in retribution for the upcoming ground assault. Israeli citizens in Sderot have less than 15 seconds from the time the air-raid siren rings to find cover.
With the evacuation of Sderot, there are now at least 50,000 people who have been internally displaced (IDPs) as a result of the Israeli conflict. Following the horrific weekend, over two-thirds of the city’s population had already been bused to hotels or were traveling to family members across Israel, according to deputy mayor Elad Kalimi, who spoke to The Times of Israel on Sunday.
On Sunday, the majority of the remaining population will be evacuated, with only 10% anticipated to remain in the city.
Temporarily, residents are being moved to hotels in Jerusalem and Eilat, as well as maybe in Tel Aviv and the Dead Sea region.
The government may also have plans to evacuate the southern portion of Ashkelon, a 149,000-person city located immediately north of Gaza. Former Israeli ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, gave international ambassadors a tour of Sderot as the evacuation began.
As terrorists in Gaza launched a volley of missiles towards the southern region of Israel, the delegation was forced to flee for protection. According to the municipality, one rocket caused a fire at a residence in Sderot.