THE First Minister has said the international community must demand an end to the “collective punishment" of Palestinians after Israel told more than 1.1 million people in Gaza to evacuate. 

The Israeli military has ordered everyone living north of Wadi Gaza – a river valley located near the centre of the Gaza Strip – to evacuate within the next 24 hours.

According to the United Nations, that means around 1.1 million people, around half the population of the entire Gaza Strip, will have to leave immediately.

In a statement, Stephane Dujarric, a spokesperson for the UN secretary-general, said: “The United Nations considers it impossible for such a movement to take place without devastating humanitarian consequences.

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“The United Nations strongly appeals for any such order, if confirmed, to be rescinded avoiding what could transform what is already a tragedy into a calamitous situation.”

Humza Yousaf, whose parents-in-law are currently trapped in Gaza, said there was “no justification” for the order by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

He said on X/Twitter: “UN has said the order to move 1.1m people in 24 hours will lead to 'devastating humanitarian consequences'

“The international community must step up and demand an end to collective punishment. Enough.

"There can be no justification for the death of innocent men, women & children.”

The IDF said that people living in Gaza City and anywhere north of Wadi Gaza should leave “for their own safety and protection”.

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A statement read: “You will be able to return to Gaza city only when another announcement permitting it is made.

“Do not approach the area of the security fence of Israel. Hamas terrorists are hiding in Gaza city, inside tunnels, underneath houses and inside buildings populated with innocent civilians, who are using you as human shields.

“In the following days, the IDF will continue to operate with significant force in Gaza city and will make extensive efforts to avoid harming civilians.”

The IDF has said the UN’s call to rescind the order is “shameful” and insisted it has a right to defend its citizens from Hamas.

Meanwhile, Hamas has told people living in the area to stay put calling the order "fake propaganda" and "psychological warfare".