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Israel Gaza war: More Rafah evacuations as Israel steps up operations

  • Author, Rob Corp.
  • Role, BBC News

Israel has asked tens of thousands more Palestinians to leave Rafah as it steps up military operations in southern Gaza.

Air leaflets and social media posts urged residents of the city’s eastern neighborhoods to travel to al-Mawasi – a narrow coastal area that Israel calls an “extended humanitarian zone”.

Parts of Rafah, where the streets were filled with residents and displaced people only a few days ago, now resemble a ghost town.

Israel said it would continue planned operations in Rafah despite warnings from the United States and other allies that a ground offensive could lead to widespread civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis.

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden said a ceasefire in Gaza was possible the next day if Hamas released its hostages.

“Israel said it was up to Hamas, if they wanted to do it, we could end it tomorrow. And the ceasefire would start tomorrow,” he said at an event in fundraiser in Seattle.

Israel says 128 people taken hostage by Hamas on October 7 are missing, 36 of whom are presumed dead.

Images showed smoke rising above Rafah on Saturday and witnesses cited by AFP reported airstrikes near the crossing with Egypt.

On X, formerly Twitter, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said that over the past day its troops had been engaged in “face-to-face combat” with Hamas fighters in Rafah.

The Israeli military added that soldiers discovered “a number of underground wells” in the area.

Over the past day, dozens of Israeli airstrikes have taken place across the Gaza Strip, with the Israeli military saying it was targeting what it calls terrorists and terrorist infrastructure.

On Saturday evening, the Israeli army said it was “currently striking Hamas terrorist targets in the Jabaliya area” in the far north of the Gaza Strip.

Previously, he had asked residents to leave certain areas of northern Gaza. He said they should “temporarily evacuate to shelters in western Gaza City.”

Israeli media report that several Hamas rockets were fired overnight at Ashkelon, a port city about 10 km north of the border with Gaza. The Times of Israel says three people were lightly injured when a rocket hit their home.

Israel’s plans to expand its ground offensive to the southern tip of the Gaza Strip – where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge from fighting elsewhere in the territory – have sparked international concern.

Last week, President Biden said the United States would not provide Israel with heavy weapons that could be used in a major assault on Rafah.

In an interview with CNN, Biden said America would continue to provide Israel with the weapons it needs to defend itself, including interceptors for its “Iron Dome” air defense system.

But he said heavy weapons supplied by the United States had already killed civilians in Gaza and warned that Israel would not retain Washington’s support if it carried out military operations in those population centers.

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said Britain was opposed to the Rafah military operation but was unlikely to follow America in delaying its arms sales to Israel .

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he hoped to overcome his differences with Mr Biden – but vowed to continue his military attack on Rafah.

“If we need to… we will be alone. I said if necessary we will fight with our nails,” Mr Netanyahu said.

Saturday’s evacuation order comes hours after a U.S. State Department report said Israel may have used U.S.-supplied weapons in violation of international humanitarian law in some cases during the war in Gaza.

It is “reasonable to assess” that these weapons were used in a manner “inconsistent” with Israel’s obligations, the report says, but adds that the United States does not have complete information in its assessment and that the expeditions could continue.

Legend, Explosions seen in northern Gaza after IDF announces operations there

Humanitarian agencies have warned that continued Israeli military operations in southern Gaza mean Palestinians will be left with no place of safety.

Khitam Al-Khatib, a Rafah resident who said she lost at least 10 family members in an airstrike on a family home earlier Saturday, told Reuters there was “no safe place in Gaza “.

“They threw leaflets on Rafah and said: from Rafah to al-Zawayda, it’s safe, people should evacuate there, and they did, and what happened to them ?Dismembered bodies?” she would have declared.

The charity Oxfam said the region has no functioning hospitals and aid supplies are extremely limited.

The largest of Rafah’s three partially functional hospitals, Abu Youssef al-Najjar, had to be hastily abandoned the next day after staff received an evacuation order and fighting broke out nearby.

The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has also expressed concerns about living conditions in al-Mawasi camp, where people are being urged to go.

UNRWA’s Sam Rose told BBC News the region had virtually no facilities for the numbers sent there.

“These are people who live in shacks, people who live in tents on the side of a sandy beach road. It’s very difficult here to provide services.

“There is no water network there. There is no infrastructure, no sewers, no sanitation,” he said.

Israel launched a military campaign in Gaza to destroy Hamas in response to the group’s attack on southern Israel on October 7, in which around 1,200 people were killed and another 252 taken hostage, according to the Israeli authorities.

Since then, more than 34,900 people have been killed in Gaza, according to the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

Legend, Israeli tanks and armored vehicles seen near Gaza fence

News Source : www.bbc.com
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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class. After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim. Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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