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Israel Calls for Evacuation of Rafah as Fears of Ground Assault Rise

May 6, 2024
Photo Source: NBC News

Israel’s military has announced a “limited scope” operation in Rafah, encouraging residents to evacuate the southern Gaza city on Monday 6 May. 

Israel claims that thousands of Hamas fighters reside in Rafah, making it a crucial target for their offensive. 

However, with over a million displaced Palestinians seeking refuge there, Western powers and Egypt have expressed concerns over potential casualties.

The Israeli military has called on Palestinians residing in the eastern parts of Rafah to relocate to a nearby “humanitarian area.” 

It is estimated that approximately 100,000 individuals will need to be relocated in this limited-scale evacuation. 

Reports from Israeli broadcaster Army Radio suggest that evacuations are primarily focused on peripheral districts of Rafah, with evacuees being directed to tent cities in nearby Khan Younis and Al Muwassi.

The US’ Biden administration has expressed deep concern over the possibility of an Israeli military invasion in Rafah, given the significant number of displaced Palestinians seeking shelter there. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has indicated his intention to order an invasion of Rafah, regardless of ongoing negotiations for the release of hostages in Gaza and a potential ceasefire.

As Israel’s forces continue the evacuation operation, the humanitarian area in Al Mawasi has been expanded to accommodate the increasing flow of aid into Gaza. 

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East has pledged to remain in Rafah as long as possible to provide much-needed assistance during this tense period.

The Conflict So Far

After a surprise attack conducted on 7 October by Hamas on a number of southern Israeli towns which resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,200 people and more than 220 being taken hostage by Hamas, Israel launched a retaliatory bombing campaign against what it describes as ‘terrorist targets’ in the Gaza Strip.

It has been 207 days since the war in Gaza started and more than 33,686 Palestinian fatalities, with an additional 76,309 injuries. 

The priority of the Egyptian government since the beginning of the conflict has been deescalation and the securing of a path for aid to enter the Gaza Strip through the Rafah crossing. Israel bombed the crossing at least six times, and limited aid trucks have crossed to Gaza so far, which UN officials warn is insufficient amid dire humanitarian conditions.

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