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After rocket barrage from Lebanon on Western Galilee, northern Israeli town Kiryat Shmona receives order to evacuate

Evacuation order for towns up to 5km from border was green-lit on Thursday

View of the northern Israel city of Kiryat Shmona, as it seen from the Israel National Trail, Jan. 5, 2023. (Photo: Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

The residents of the city of Kiryat Shmona, located just a few miles from the Lebanese border, will undergo an evacuation the Israel Defense Forces and the Defense Ministry announced Friday morning.

The measure was taken in anticipation of escalating tensions with the Hezbollah terror group, which has been attacking Israeli posts and towns along the border from Lebanon daily since the start of the war against Hamas.

The decision to evacuate the city's 24,000 residents was made by the Defense Ministry’s National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) and the IDF approval was made by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, according to a directive that was green-lit by the government on Thursday.

The IDF Northern Command notified the mayor of Kiryat Shmona of the beginning stages of the evacuation plan on Friday morning. The mayor asked that residents either evacuate on their own or request to be picked up with bus transportation.

The Kiryat Shmona residents will be assigned a room at one of several state-subsidized guesthouses and hotels, or receive a daily stipend for accommodations, with the help of the municipality, the Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Defense who are leading that aspect of the evacuation program.

“Everyone who registers for evacuation and receives a notice of assignment to the evacuation destination is obligated to evacuate and arrive at the hotel during the day, otherwise we cannot commit to saving the room,” the municipality instructed residents.

“Everyone who filled out the evacuation request form will receive a WhatsApp message or text message during the day about the place they were assigned to and will enter a WhatsApp group that brings together everyone who was assigned to that place.”

The local municipality, the Tourism Ministry, and the Ministry of Defense is leading the program to find housing for the evacuated citizens.

The evacuation order was made one day after at least 30 rockets were fired from Lebanon to the Western Galilee, including one that hit Kiryat Shmona and injured two residents in the city.

“In view of the security reality and the possibility of the war developing into the northern sector as well, it is not possible to maintain the safety of the population or ensure the supply of basic products and services for it within a range of 5 km (about 3 miles) from the northern border except through the organized evacuation of the population,” the government announced on Thursday.

The Defense Ministry and the IDF already ordered the evacuation of towns within 2 km (about 1.25 miles) of the Lebanese border at the beginning of the week.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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