The order is ominous and is sowing panic and confusion.

Israel’s military has told more than a million people living in the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate, to move south in the besieged enclave, as fighting between it and Hamas continues.

Hamas has rebuffed the order, telling Palestinians that it is an Israeli psychological warfare tactic and that everyone should stay put.

Israeli bombs have been raining down on the Gaza Strip since Saturday when the Palestinian group Hamas’s paramilitary arm launched a surprise attack on Israel.

By Wednesday, Israeli land forces were moving towards the border with Gaza, amassing hardware and forces to set the board for a ground offensive on the impoverished enclave.

“We started the offensive from the air. Later on, we will also come from the ground,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant told Israeli troops this week near Gaza.