Helena Lyng Blak
3 weeks ago

Rafah Evacuates, Awaiting Long-Warned Israeli Attack

Palestinian civilians in Rafah are evacuating following Israel's announcement to expand the humanitarian area while pursuing Hamas militants in Gaza.
GAZA, PALESTINE, 07.10.2023. — Photo by thenews2.com / DepositPhotos
GAZA, PALESTINE, 07.10.2023. — Photo by thenews2.com / DepositPhotos

In the morning hours, local time, of Monday, May 6, 2024, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) announced in a post on X that it had expanded the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi to “accommodate the increased levels of aid flowing into Gaza.” 

The IDF further encourages civilians in eastern Rafah to temporarily evacuate to the expanded humanitarian area, as the IDF “will continue pursuing Hamas everywhere in Gaza” until Hamas’ hostages have been freed and brought back home. 

Outside of social media, the IDF is spreading the word to the civilian Palestinians of Rafah through flyers, phone calls and messages, and media broadcasts in Arabic.

The BBC reports that the IDF estimates the evacuation will affect 100,000 people. But many more may be fleeing. One of those is Abu Muhey, who is sheltering with his family north of Rafah, who according to Reuters, said,

“[The Israeli military] are calling people in the eastern area of Rafah, some also in the west near the Rafah crossing, ordering them to leave ... We don't know what to do, but I will take my family to Deir al-Balah though I am not in the targeted area, maybe not yet.”

Hamas officials responded to Israel’s threat, saying, “This is a dangerous escalation that will have consequences.”

No Truce in Sight

Despite an Israeli airstrike on Rafah in the night between April 28 and April 29, at the end of last week, talks of a truce were still ongoing with Israel putting a ceasefire proposal on the table and mediators in the United States and Egypt both expressing moderate optimism regarding a resolution. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the proposal “strong”

But as the weekend came to an end, no ceasefire had been negotiated.

On Sunday, May 5, Israel closed a humanitarian crossing into Gaza after Hamas fired a rocket barrage killing at least four Israeli soldiers. 

“Yesterday, we received a reminder from the Nazi terrorist organization Hamas, firing from a civilian population near the Rafah Crossing towards the Kerem Shalom Crossing, intended for humanitarian aid,” said Israel’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz on X.

He went on to accuse Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar of having “no intention” of releasing all hostages, even if all of Hamas’ demands for a ceasefire were met. 

That seemingly mirrors Israeli sentiments from last week, where Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that, “We will enter Rafah and we will eliminate the Hamas battalions there – with or without a deal, in order to achieve the total victory.”

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