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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
1 Dec 2023

Israel releases block map of Gaza to warn civilians of attack targets

The Israeli military has published a map of the 140-square-mile Gaza Strip divided into hundreds of small blocks, saying it will be used to announce which areas will be targeted in order to allow civilians to safely evacuate.

The move came as the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) resumed their war against Hamas after a week-long ceasefire in the enclave.

Israel has come under mounting global criticism for the high civilian death toll in Gaza, where more than 15,000 people have died in less than two months of brutal fighting, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Leaflet, the interactive map tool that the IDF used to create its Gaza map, was created by Volodymyr Agafonkin, 37, a Ukrainian citizen living in Kyiv.

“I’m glad any time a tool I helped create can make a positive impact in the world, and preventing civilian casualties is a critical goal to strive for,” said Mr Agafonkin.

“I’m heartbroken about all the destruction and suffering Palestinian people have to endure in Gaza, but I also understand that there can be no peace in the Middle East while the Hamas terrorist group is still in power.”

But “it’s arguable whether Israeli forces are doing enough to prevent [civilian] casualties,” he added.

When Mr Agafonkin created Leaflet in 2010, he envisioned it as a mapping tool that would be available for everyone to use.

But it quickly took on a chilling new significance when Russia invaded Ukraine last year, and people started using it to document Russia’s war crimes, promote accurate reporting of the war, and to assist in coordinating humanitarian efforts in neighbouring Romania and Poland.

“Every Ukrainian is worried about growing instability in the world, but at the same time, it’s not surprising at all,” Mr Agafonkin said.

“Russia has been doing absolutely everything it can to try to spur chaos and violence worldwide,” he added.

“Given that Hamas, Iran and Russia are allied, there is zero doubt that it’s a coordinated effort.”