Why is Israel forcing the evacuation of part of Rafah, Gaza’s last refuge?

Ghaza Israel News

Israel argues its security depends on disbanding Hamas battalions in Rafah as it calls on 100,000 people there to evacuate.

Israel claims to be about to initiate a partial offensive in eastern Rafah, an operation that could worsen the humanitarian crisis caused by Israel’s destructive war in the Gaza Strip.

It claims that its security depends on defeating Hamas in Rafah and along the Philadelphi Corridor between Gaza and Egypt, and it has been threatening to assault the city in southern Gaza for weeks, regardless of whether a truce and agreement for the exchange of prisoners is reached with Hamas.
Over the course of its seven-month assault on Gaza, which has resulted in approximately 35,000 deaths and over 70,000 injuries, Israel has made similar claims at various stages.

However, Israel is proceeding despite the warnings from its friends that they would not back an operation that disproportionately harms the civilian population.

What you need to know about the current situation in Rafah is as follows:
How big is Rafah and where is it located?

Gaza’s southernmost city and governorate, Rafah, lies adjacent to Egypt.

There are an estimated 1.4 million individuals seeking shelter there, with half of them being children, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNWRA).

There were roughly 275,000 people living in Rafah prior to the war.

What is the size of the evacuation?
A spokesman for the Israeli army stated that over 100,000 residents in eastern Rafah are being evacuated.

UNWRA spokesman Lousie Wateridge told Al Jazeera that “even though one area has received an evacuation order, it has caused a ripple effect across Rafah as people in fear now look to find safety where there is none.”

How large is Rafah in the east?
It covers an area of roughly 11.6 square miles (30 sq km).

Why is Israel going to attack Rafah’s eastern region?
After Hamas killed three Israeli troops on Tuesday with rocket fire from eastern Rafah, Israel has declared it will launch an attack.

Attackers would close the border crossing with Israel at Karem Abu Salam, also known as Kerem Shalom in Hebrew, in southeast Gaza, which humanitarian organizations claim is a vital lifeline for famished residents.

Senior analyst at the International Crisis Group Mairav Zonszein stated that the United States is unlikely to support Israel militarily or politically in the event of a “all-out ground invasion.”
Furthermore, she said, Israel may be attempting this small-scale operation to put more pressure on Hamas during the negotiations.
But since Hamas did not respond formally to the latest truce request, Zonszein told Al Jazeera that “Israel is creating the appearance of a Hamas rejection, which actually hasn’t happened.”

“I believe Netanyahu is trying to prevent this deal from happening because he senses that it might go through.”

Palestinians, where have you advised them to go?
Under the pretext that the relocation will only be “temporary,” Israeli forces have ordered Palestinians to evacuate to al-Mawasi.

“To all residents and those currently sheltering in the Rafah Camp, the Brazil Camp, and the neighborhoods of Al-Shabura and Al-Zohour,” reads flyers dropped from the air. Your life is at risk if you stay in these areas.

According to Palestinian volunteer Ibrahim Nabil at a Rafah hospital, the Israeli army informed every citizen that the only “safe” region in Gaza is the western corridor.

He went on to say that Palestinians might also be able to escape to neighboring areas including az-Zawayda, Nuseirat, Deir el-Balah, and Maghazi.

Al-Mawasi: What is it?

Al-Mawasi stretches the whole length of Rafah and Khan Younis on the western coast of the Gaza Strip. Aid organizations claim that it is not safer than other places and does not have the infrastructure required for a large inflow of people.

Islamic Relief said in a statement, “Al Mawasi has been designated a so-called ‘ safe humanitarian zone,’ but it is not safe.”

“Those taking refuge there report that they are still subject to attacks and serious shortages of food, water, and other necessities. Bringing more people there will exacerbate the humanitarian situation.

Wateridge claimed that relief organizations in Rafah were already having difficulty meeting basic necessities, something that is far more difficult to do throughout Gaza.

“Water is one of the few basic amenities that Mawasi lacks severely, and it is not practical to support tens of thousands of displaced people there,” the speaker stated.

How was the evacuation ordered?

In addition to handing out pamphlets, the Israeli army has been phoning Palestinian refugees.

According to Sarah Aljamal, her mother was contacted by the Israeli army on Monday morning and advised to relocate to al-Mawasi.

“I’m crying,” she added, describing how her family has been displaced several times during the conflict and is unsure of what to do.

An Arabic-language leaflet about “the expansion of the humanitarian zone in Gaza” was dropped by plane to Khader Al Belbesy.

“I’m looking for a spot, and my mind is foggy. There isn’t any transportation available. The father of three told Al Jazeera, “I’m going to leave without any luggage.”

Additionally, the Israeli army stated on X that it would announce the evacuation via media broadcasts in Arabic and SMS texts.

In what ways has the Israeli army been getting ready for the attack?

According to Omar Ashour, a professor of security and military studies at the Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, over 40,000 big tents, each holding 12 people, were created in the Khan Younis area allegedly for those evacuating from Rafah.

Additionally, Israel pulled the Nahal Brigade out of the Netzarim Corridor, which splits Gaza into northern and southern regions, and Ashour informed Al Jazeera that they are relocating around six brigades, each with 3,000–5,000 soldiers, to a camp close to Rafah.

He declared, “This is a two-division, multidomain, combined-arms offensive on Rafah, not a limited operation.”

He said that the operation, which is expected to span months, will involve artillery, air, and naval support in addition to electromagnetic and intelligence activities.

Recent Israeli military equipment is amassed north of the Amitai military base, close to the Karem Abu Salem crossing, as depicted in the slider below.

What is the view on a Rafah offensive around the world?

A ground invasion of Rafah, according to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, would “put the final nail in the coffin.”

There will be more pain and fatalities, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has warned.

US President Joe Biden and other officials have cautioned against launching an operation in Rafah until sufficient plans are in place to evacuate residents.

It would “worsen an already catastrophic humanitarian situation,” according to 26 EU foreign ministers.

What possible repercussions might an offensive like this have?
Wateridge claimed that this would have a serious effect on humanitarian help, which was already inadequate.

She stated, “The main entry points for the commercial goods and humanitarian supplies in Gaza are the crossing points of Rafah and [Karem Abu Salem].”

As with any military campaign, hunger is “going to get a lot worse if the supply routes are interrupted.”

“People will inevitably die as a result of the evacuation,” Islamic Relief issued a warning.

“Those who are ill or injured, the elderly, young children, and those with disabilities are especially vulnerable and frequently cannot evacuate without assistance.”


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