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Israel orders evacuation from Rafah area in south Gaza

Israel orders evacuation from Rafah area in south Gaza

International Desk

The Israeli army Monday called on Gazans living in eastern Rafah to head to an "expanded humanitarian area" in the Palestinian territory, ahead of an expected military operation in the southern Gaza city.

"IDF (military) encourages the residents of eastern Rafah to advance towards expanded humanitarian area," the military said in a statement.

The prospect of an invasion in Rafah has triggered alarm from aid groups and world leaders. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Friday said Israel had yet to present "a credible plan to genuinely protect the civilians who are in harm's way", and without such a plan Washington "can't support a major military operation going into Rafah."

Soon after the war in Gaza began on October 7, Israel told Palestinians living in the north of Gaza to move to "safe zones" in the territory's south -- including Rafah.

But Rafah has been repeatedly bombed from the air and Palestinians regularly say that no area of Gaza is safe.

"The IDF has expanded the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi to accommodate the increased levels of aid flowing into Gaza," the military statement said, referring to a coastal area near Rafah.

"This expanded humanitarian area includes field hospitals, tents and increased amounts of food, water, medication and additional supplies."

"This morning ... we began a limited scope operation to temporarily evacuate residents in the eastern part of Rafah," a military spokesman told journalists in an online briefing.

"This is a limited scope operation."

In its statement, the military added that messages "to temporarily move to the humanitarian area will be conveyed through posters, SMS messages, phone calls and media broadcasts in Arabic."

Troops will continue to pursue Hamas militants "everywhere in Gaza until all hostages that they are holding in captivity are back home", the statement said.

 

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