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WASHINGTON: Israel’s call for more than 1 million civilians in northern Gaza to move within 24 hours is going to be a “tall order,” although the United States was not second-guessing the decision, White House national security spokesman John Kirby said on Friday.

“That is a lot of people to move in a very short period of time,” Kirby said in an interview on MSNBC.

“We understand what they’re trying to do and why they’re trying to do this – to try to isolate the civilian population from Hamas, which is their real target,” he added.

Kirby said U.S. officials are working with Israel and Egypt on getting safe passage for civilians living in Gaza, home to 2.3 million people in one of the most crowded places on Earth.

“Obviously, we don’t want to see any civilians hurt,” he said later on CNN. “We do support safe passage out of Gaza, and certainly that includes the ability for people to move safely inside Gaza.

“These Palestinian people, they’re victims, too. They didn’t ask for this. They didn’t invite Hamas in and say, you know, ‘Go hit Israel.’”

Kirby said he could not confirm Hamas’ assertion that 13 captives were killed in Israeli strikes on Gaza in the last 24 hours.

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