Monday 6 May 2024

Israeli Military Calls For Evacuations In Rafah Ahead Of Possible Ground Operation

 The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) urged people in Rafah to evacuate parts of the southern city in the Gaza Strip on Monday ahead of a possible ground operation there in the fight against Hamas.

An estimated 100,000 people have been instructed to make their way to Muwasi, a coastal area that the IDF designated as a humanitarian area with hospitals, tents, food, water, medication, and other supplies.

Flyers with instructions to leave and maps were reportedly dropped into eastern Rafah. The IDF’s post to X said the message was also conveyed by phone and media broadcasts in Arabic.

“The IDF will continue pursuing Hamas everywhere in Gaza until all the hostages that they’re holding in captivity are back home,” the post added.

More than half the Gaza Strip’s 2.3 million population had gathered in Rafah as IDF forces engaged in a renewed armed conflict against Hamas following the group’s deadly attacks on Israel in October.

As some people reportedly began to leave the area, a Hamas official claimed that a Rafah offensive would have “dangerous escalation that will have consequences.”

The call for evacuations comes after Hamas claimed responsibility for a rocket attack near the Kerem Shalom border crossing on Sunday that the IDF said killed and critically wounded a handful of Israeli soldiers.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin overnight that there was “no choice left” but to start the Rafah operation despite opposition by the Biden administration.

Peace negotiations had been taking place in Cairo, with the talks geared toward the release of hostages kidnapped in Israel in exchange for a ceasefire in Gaza, but CNN reported on Sunday they had shown little progress before the Hamas delegation left Egypt.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said in a post to X on Monday it would remain in Rafah for as long as possible to provide aid to people in the area.


UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini warned that an Israeli offensive in Rafah would create an “additional layer” of tragedy for people in Gaza and called for an immediate ceasefire.

In a post to X on Sunday, the IDF said that a Hamas command-and-control center located in central Gaza at an “active” [UNRWA] location was “precisely struck” by Israeli Air Force fighter jets.

“The location served as a staging ground for multiple attacks on IDF troops and humanitarian aid distribution efforts as well as a weapons supply facility for Hamas terrorists,” the IDF said. “Hamas intentionally positioned the command and control position in this location to jeopardize the Gazan civilians taking refuge there.”

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