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The Middle East war: Escalation looms as Israel orders 100,000 Gazans to evacuate Rafah

The Middle East war: Escalation looms as Israel orders 100,000 Gazans to evacuate Rafah

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: A day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserted that “Israel will stand alone,” and that any leniency at this stage would only keep Hamas in power, the Jewish nation rejected international criticism, and directed nearly 100,000 civilians to temporarily mass evacuate from parts of Rafah city in Southern Gaza Strip to flush out terrorists hiding there, the media reported on Monday.

Meanwhile, Iran-supported Shia group Hezbollah from Lebanon and Sunni groups Houthis and Hamas continued to shower missiles on Israel.
Ahead of a planned operation in southern Gaza, Israel ordered 1,00,000 Palestinians to evacuate eastern parts of Rafah, which it said was the last significant Hamas stronghold. The development came a day after Hamas militants carried out a deadly rocket attack from the area that killed three Israeli soldiers.

Civilian protests in Israel also continued as angry people, frustrated over the prolonged hostage crisis and the war, demanded PM Netanyahu’s resignation and fresh elections.

“Israel was preparing a “limited scope operation” in Rafah and would not say whether this was the beginning of a broader invasion of the city,” Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani, an army spokesman said, adding the operation is part of the endeavor to dismantle Hamas infrastructure and strongholds in Gaza Strip.

Israel asked the affected people to be evacuated to move to a nearby Israel-declared humanitarian zone called Muwasi.

To convey its order, the Israeli military used text messages, posters, phone calls, flyers, and social media announcements to “encourage … the gradual movement of civilians in the specified area.”

It also expanded assistance into the area, including field hospitals, tents, food, and water.

In a statement on Monday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said that Israeli military action in Rafah is required due to Hamas’ refusals of multiple mediated proposals for a Gaza truce under which the Palestinian Islamist group would free some hostages, the reports said.

About 1.5 million people, of the nearly 2.3 million population in the Gaza Strip, are currently sheltering in Rafah, close to the border with Egypt, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Many of them are starving.

The Israeli military said it was not setting a timeframe for the Rafah evacuation, but would make operational assessments.

Evacuations were focused on a few peripheral districts of Rafah, from which evacuees would be directed to tent cities in nearby Khan Younis and Al Muwassi, “Army Radio” was quoted as saying.

The incident would not affect the badly needed aid entering Gaza because other crossing points remain operational, said an army spokesman.

The war began after Hamas stunned Israel with a cross-border raid on October 7, 2023. According to Israel, some 1,200 people were killed and 252 taken hostages. In its counter-attack, over 34,000 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip, and more than a million were rendered homeless and starving, as they fled towards the southern part of the enclave.

Meanwhile, despite a crackdown and the arrest of over 2,500 “students”, anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian protests, their protests continued in some of the US universities. However, the agitation appeared to be petering out given the official crackdown and the graduation ceremonies approaching. Many demonstrators did not want to blot their careers by prolonging the protests, the media reported.


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