Israel on Monday denied reports of any temporary Gaza ceasefire to allow foreign nationals to flee the enclave to neighbouring Egypt.
However, the army pledged to refrain from striking routes within Gaza designated for evacuating people from the enclave’s north to the south during a limited time window, from 8:00am to noon (0500 GMT to 0900 GMT).
Media reports had said Israel, Egypt and the United States had agreed the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt would be opened for several hours Monday in a one-off move to allow foreign nationals to flee and aid goods to enter.
But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that “there is currently no ceasefire and humanitarian aid in Gaza in return for removing foreigners”.
Aid convoys have waited on the Egyptian side but, according to witnesses, had not left the town of El-Arish, about 40 kilometres (25 miles) west of Rafah on Monday.
“There is no ceasefire and we are continuing with our operational activity,” military spokesman Daniel Hagari told journalists.
Izzat al-Rishq, chief of Hamas’s media office, also said there was “no truth” to the media reports.
The Israeli military said earlier Monday it would refrain from striking two roads in the Gaza Strip marked for residents to move south and out of the way of a possible ground offensive.
“The IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) will refrain from targeting the designated axis from 8:00 am until 12:00 pm,” military spokesman Avichay Adraee said on X, formerly Twitter.
“For your safety take advantage of this short period of time to move south from the north of the strip and Gaza City.”
Military spokesman Jonathan Conricus pledged in a separate statement that the two designated roads “would be safe to use” for that duration.
UN relief chief Martin Griffiths said he was hoping to get aid through the Rafah crossing into Gaza to “help those million people who have moved south as well as those who live there already”.
A surprise attack on October 7 by Gaza’s Hamas militants on southern communities in Israel left more than 1,400 dead, and retaliatory Israeli air strikes on Gaza since then have killed around 2,750 in the Palestinian territory.
An estimated one million people have been displaced within Gaza, the United Nations agency supporting Palestinian refugees has said.
Israel has also carried out air strikes in the southern parts of Gaza in the areas of Khan Yunis and Rafah.