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Nearly 450,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah, threatened by a major offensive

Photo: Agence France-Presse A man pushes a bicycle past ruins on Tuesday in Khan Younes, southern Gaza Strip.

France Media Agency to Rafah

Posted at 10:22 a.m. Updated at 5:13 p.m.

  • Middle East

Incessant Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip have left dozens dead, Hamas said on Tuesday, at a time when nearly 450,000 Palestinians had to flee shelled areas of the city of Rafah , threatened with a major offensive.

In the eighth month of the war started on October 7 by an unprecedented attack on Israeli soil by the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas, Israelis are celebrating the 76th anniversary of the creation of their state.

In the small Palestinian territory besieged and ravaged by bombings and fighting between the Israeli army and Hamas, the population, displaced several times since the start of the war, is once again on the roads to try to find shelter, even though the UN says “there is no safe place in Gaza.”

Before dawn on Tuesday, strikes targeted different sectors of the Gaza Strip, including Rafah, a town in the far south of the territory where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians – the vast majority displaced – are crowded together, according to witnesses and correspondents of the AFP.

“Exhausted, hungry, afraid”

In the past 24 hours, at least 82 Palestinians have died, bringing the death toll, mostly civilians, in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war to 35,173, the Hamas Health Ministry said. Civil defense counted at least eight dead in a strike on a building in Nousseirat (center).

Heavy fighting is taking place in eastern Rafah, located Israel's southern border, where the army entered with tanks on May 7.

Since then, the Rafah crossing point has remained closed, despite is crucial for convoys transporting aid to a population threatened with famine in Gaza according to the UN. Egypt, neighboring the Gaza Strip, and Israel blamed each other on Tuesday for blocking the entry of aid through Rafah.

Since the army ordered civilians to leave eastern areas of Rafah on May 6, “nearly 450,000 people have been forcibly displaced,” the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said. . They “are exhausted, hungry, and constantly afraid,” according to the agency.

Nearly 450,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah, threatened by a major offensive

Photo: Agence France-Presse Palestinians walk among ruined buildings in Khan Younes, in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli bombings also affected the west of Rafah, a town constantly overflown by aircraft, according to witnesses.

« The shooting shells and air raids are continuous. It's very scary. I am afraid for my children,” Hadil Radwane, 32, displaced from Gaza in western Rafah, told AFP.

“We fled the north of the territory to Rafah because of the bombings and now we have packed our things to flee again, but we have nowhere to go,” she said.

Washington wants a political project for Gaza

UN Secretary General Antònio Guterres is “appalled by the intensification of military activities of the Israeli Defense Forces in and around Rafah”, according to one of its spokespersons.

In the north of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians were also ordered to leave certain areas after violent fighting resumed, notably in Jabaliya and Gaza City, where, according to the army, Hamas is trying to “rebuild its military capabilities”.

After the bloody October 7 attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to wipe out Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in 2007 and which he considers a terrorist organization, along with the United States. United, Canada and the European Union.

To do this, he is determined to launch a major operation in Rafah, where according to him the last battalions are entrenched of Hamas, to the great dismay of the international community worried about the civilian population.

Israel's first ally, the United States, opposes such an operation.

“If Israel's efforts [to defeat Hamas] are not accompanied by a political plan for the future of Gaza [and] the future of the Palestinian people, the terrorists will return and Israel will continue to be under threat,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel told reporters.

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The October 7 attack carried out by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza into southern Israel resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report established based on official Israeli data. More than 250 people were kidnapped during the attack and 128 remain captive in Gaza, of whom 36 are believed to have died, according to the army.

In response, Israel launched intense aerial and artillery bombardments, followed by a ground offensive that devastated the Gaza Strip.

“Not a real independence day”

While humanitarian aid has no longer reached the inhabitants of Gaza since May 9, according to Qatar, the Hamas' health ministry claimed that the territory's healthcare system was on the verge of “collapse” due to lack of fuel to operate hospital generators and ambulances.

The Israeli police also opened an investigation after activists blocked and vandalized aid trucks in Israel intended for Gaza. “No help should be delivered until our hostages return home safely,” said Hana Giat, one of them.

As Israel celebrates the anniversary of its creation on Tuesday, the country is haunted this year by the absence of the hostages. “We are still here, my daughters are still there, Israel is still there, but it is not a real day of independence,” says Lishay Lavi Miran, because her husband “Omri is there,” in Gaza .

The war in Gaza has repercussions on the border between Israel and Lebanon, the scene of daily exchanges of fire between Israeli forces and the Lebanese movement Hezbollah, which supports Hamas.

The Israeli army announced Tuesday that an Israeli civilian was killed and five soldiers injured in northern Israel by a rocket fired from the Lebanon.

Hearings Thursday and Friday at the ICJ on the Israeli offensive in Gaza

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) announced on Tuesday the holding of hearings on Thursday and Friday at the request of South Africa, which notably seized the court to ask Israel to withdraw its troops from Rafah.< /p>

The UN's highest court will hear South Africa's lawyers on Thursday, and Israel's response the next day, it said in a statement.

South Africa calls on the ICJ to order Israel to guarantee that it will “immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive in the Rafah governorate” and “immediately take all effective measures to guarantee and facilitate unhindered access to Gaza” for humanitarian assistance, according to the request published last week.

Pretoria went to court at the end of December, accusing Israel of perpetrating a “genocide” in Gaza, an accusation vehemently denied by Israel.

In January, the ICJ called on Israel to prevent any possible act of genocide and to allow humanitarian aid access to the Gaza Strip.

At the beginning of March, the ICJ, following a new request from South Africa, ordered Israel to provide “urgent humanitarian aid” to Gaza, in the face of “a famine which is 'install'.

The orders of the ICJ, which settles disputes between states, are binding but it has no means of enforcing them.

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