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Israel orders new evacuations in Rafah

Photo: Agence France-Presse A woman and a child walk with their personal belongings to flee the town of Rafah, a crowded town in the south of the Gaza Strip threatened by an Israeli ground offensive.

France Media Agency to Rafah

Published at 11:51 a.m.

  • Middle East

Israel on Saturday bombed the Gaza Strip and ordered new evacuations in Rafah after a UN warning of a “colossal humanitarian catastrophe” in this overcrowded city threatened by an Israeli ground offensive.

AFP journalists, doctors and witnesses reported strikes across the besieged Palestinian territory devastated by more than seven months of war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas.

The entry of aid into Gaza has been blocked according to the UN since Israeli troops entered eastern Rafah on Monday and took control of the border crossing with Egypt, blocking a key gateway for aid convoys.

At least 21 people killed in bombings in central Gaza Strip transported to hospital of the Martyrs of Al-Aqsa in the city of Deir al-Balah, according to the establishment.

Bodies covered with white cloth lie on the ground in a hospital courtyard. A man in a baseball cap leans over a body bag, clutching a dust-covered hand. The feet of a corpse protrude from a red and black checkered blanket.

“Time is running out”

In Rafah, where according to the UN there are some 1.4 million Palestinians, most of them displaced by Israeli bombings and fighting, Intense airstrikes targeted an area close to the crossing point with Egypt, witnesses said. Smoke rose above the city, according to AFP images.

Other strikes took place in the north of the strip of Gaza, according to witnesses.

Defying international warnings against a major offensive in Rafah, the Israeli army has been carrying out incursions into eastern Gaza since Tuesday. city, after ordering residents to evacuate the area.

As mediation efforts for a truce and the release of hostages appear to be bogged down, the armed wing of Hamas released a video on Saturday of an Israeli hostage held in the Gaza Strip since the attack Hamas on October 7 in Israel.

These images of around ten seconds, the date of recording of which is not specified, show a man with a swollen eye and the haggard look that articulates his name. The message is accompanied by the hashtags “Time is running out” and “your government is lying”.

“Rebuilding yourself”

The new evacuation order issued by the army on Saturday for eastern Rafah states that the designated areas have been “the scene of Hamas terrorist activities in recent days and weeks.” About 300,000 Palestinians have left the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah since the first evacuation order on May 6, according to the army.

In January, it announced it had dismantled Hamas's command structure in northern Gaza, but on Saturday a spokesperson said Hamas was “trying to rebuild” in that part of the territory where the army ordered the evacuation of the Jabaliya and Beit Lahia areas.

The war broke out on October 7 when Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza carried out an unprecedented attack against Israel, causing more than 1,170 dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data. More than 250 people have been kidnapped and 128 remain captive in Gaza, of whom 36 are believed to have died, according to the army.

In response, Israel promised to annihilate Hamas, in power in Gaza since 2007, and launched an offensive that has so far left 34,971 dead in the Palestinian territory, according to the Islamist movement's Ministry of Health.

On Friday, the US State Department said in a report that the United States found it “reasonable to believe” that Israel violated international humanitarian law in Gaza but could not conclude it definitively, and will continue to deliver weapons to that country.

A large operation in Rafah would lead to a “colossal humanitarian catastrophe,” the secretary-general warned of the UN, Antonio Guterres, repeating that famine was looming in the Palestinian territory.

“We call on the Israeli authorities to cease this military operation without delay and to resume the path of negotiations”, added French diplomacy.

In the event of a major offensive in Rafah, US President Joe Biden has threatened to halt certain arms deliveries to Israel, of which the United States is its closest ally.

< h2 class="h2-intertitre">Rocket fire

Despite the reopening on Wednesday of the Kerem Shalom crossing, neighboring Rafah, closed by Israel for three days later Hamas rocket fire, the delivery of aid remains “extremely difficult”, Andrea De Domenico, the head of the OCHA office in the Palestinian territories, told AFP.

On Saturday, new rockets were fired from Rafah towards Kerem Shalom, one of which was intercepted by the Israeli anti-aircraft defense system, according to the army. The other three fell in uninhabited areas.

The day before, Cogat, the Israeli Defense Ministry body overseeing civil affairs in the Palestinian Territories, announced “the transfer of 200,000 liters of fuel to international organizations” via Kerem Shalom.

For the emergency coordinator of Doctors Without Borders in Gaza, Sylvain Groulx, we must “understand that when more than two thirds of hospitals or medical structures in Gaza have been either destroyed or partially destroyed, it becomes even more difficult to provide the population with the basic health services they sorely need.”

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116