Israel orders new evacuations in Rafah as it prepares to expand operations in Gaza’s southernmost city


The Israeli military issued an “urgent warning” to evacuate parts of Rafah on Saturday, signaling an expansion of its military campaign despite warnings from the United States about attacking Gaza’s southernmost city where more than 1 million Palestinians are sheltering.

The Israel Defense Forces published a map showing that sectors of the city were now considered a “dangerous combat zone” and warned civilians that it would “act with extreme force against terrorist organizations in your area of ​​residence.”

“Everyone in these areas is risking their lives and the lives of their family members,” it said. “For your safety — we ask you to evacuate immediately to the humanitarian zone.”

Israel has already sent some tanks into Rafah, and has said for months that it will launch a full-scale ground assault on the city. That would defy pressure from the U.S and others who have warned that such an attack threatened devastating consequences for the Palestinians who have fled there from the rest of the enclave.

Facing rising anger domestically, President Joe Biden has become increasingly critical of Israel’s conduct in the war, in which around 35,000 people have been killed, according to health officials in the enclave. The latest round of the decades-old conflict started after Hamas Oct. 7 attacks on Israel that saw some 1,200 people killed and around 240 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

On Friday, the Biden administration said it was “reasonable to assess” that Israel has violated international law in Gaza using weapons provided by the United States, but that it hasn’t violated terms of U.S. weapons agreements.

Senior administration officials previously told NBC News that the U.S. halted a large shipment of offensive weapons to Israel last week over fears that they would be used to invade Rafah. Biden later said that the U.S. would not provide Israel with certain weapons and artillery shells if it launches a ground offensive on the city.

Along with representatives from Qatar and Egypt, American officials, including CIA Director William Burns, have been eading attempts to broker a cease-fire in the conflict. But the latest efforts looked dashed after Israeli and Hamas mediators left Cairo this week having failed to reach a deal. Hamas — a banned terrorist group in most of the West — said negotiations were back to square one.

Meanwhile, United Nations experts demanded Thursday that “Israel must halt this assault,” which it called in a news release “a culmination of a seven-month long campaign to forcibly transfer and destroy Gaza’s population.”


Leave a Reply


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *