Israel wants Rafah civilians to go to central Gaza ahead of southern offensive

AP , Thursday 14 Mar 2024

Ahead of Israel's planned offensive into Gaza's southernmost town of Rafah, the Israeli military said Wednesday it plans to direct a significant portion of the 1.4 million displaced Palestinians trapped in Rafah toward “humanitarian islands” in the center of the territory.

Sheets showing greeting messages for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan hang outside buildings at a camp sheltering displaced Palestinians erected in a school run by UNRWA in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on March 13, 2024, AFP


The fate of those in Rafah has been a major area of concern of Israel’s allies. Humanitarian groups have warned a Rafah offensive would be a catastrophe.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said moving those in Rafah to the designated areas, which he said would be done in coordination with international actors, was a key part of the military’s preparations for its anticipated invasion of Rafah, where Israel says Hamas maintains four battalions it wants to destroy.

Hagari said those islands would provide temporary housing, food, water and other necessities to evacuated Palestinians. He did not say when Rafah’s evacuation would occur, nor when the Rafah offensive would begin.

At the start of the war, Israel directed evacuees to a slice of undeveloped land along Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that it designated as a safe zone. But aid groups said there were no real plans in place to receive large numbers of displaced there. Israeli strikes also targeted the area.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

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