War between Israel and Hamas: Palestinians ordered the evacuation of parts of Rafah as the attack approaches

JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military on Monday ordered the entry of tens of thousands of Palestinians The city of Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip To begin evacuation from the area, indicating that a long-promised ground invasion may be imminent.

The announcement complicates last-minute efforts by international mediators, including the CIA director, to broker a ceasefire. The armed Hamas movement and Qatar, the main mediator, have warned that an invasion of Rafah – along the border with Egypt – could derail the talks, and the United States has repeatedly urged Israel not to invade.

However, Israel described Rafah as the last important one Hamas stronghold after seven months of warIts leaders have repeatedly said that the invasion is necessary to defeat the Armed Islamic Group.

Lieutenant Colonel Nadav Shoshani, army spokesman, said that orders were issued to about 100,000 people to move to a nearby humanitarian zone declared by Israel called Mawasi. He said that Israel was preparing for a “limited-scale operation” and did not say whether this was the beginning of a broader invasion of the city. But after October 7 and An unprecedented attack on southern Israel by HamasIsrael has not officially announced a ground invasion, which continues to this day.

Overnight, Defense Minister Yoav Galant told US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin that Israel had no choice but to act on Rafah. On Sunday, Hamas carried out a deadly missile attack from the Rafah area, killing four Israeli soldiers.

Shoshani said that Israel published a map of the evacuation area, and that orders were issued through airdrops, text messages, and radio broadcasts. He said that Israel has expanded humanitarian aid to Al-Mawasi, including field hospitals, tents, food and water.

The Israeli army said on the social platform X that it would act with “excessive force” against the militants, urging residents to evacuate immediately for their safety.

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Israel’s plan to invade Rafah has ended Raised the global alarm Because of the potential to harm more than a million people Palestinian civilians take shelter there.

About 1.4 million Palestinians, more than half of Gaza’s population, live in the city and its surrounding areas. Most of them have fled their homes elsewhere in the Strip to escape the Israeli attack and now face another painful move or the risk of remaining under a new attack. They live in overcrowded camps, overcrowded UN shelters or in crowded apartments, relying on international aid for food, with broken sanitation systems and medical facility infrastructure.

The United Nations agency that has helped millions of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank for decades, known as UNRWA, warned Monday of the devastating consequences of the attack on Rafah, including more civilian suffering and deaths. The agency said that it will not leave Rafah, but will remain there for as long as possible to continue providing life-saving assistance.

The Egyptian Rafah crossing, the main transfer point for aid heading to Gaza, is located in the evacuation zone. The crossing remained open on Monday after the Israeli order.

But even as the United States, Egypt and Qatar push for a ceasefire agreement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu It was repeated last week that the army would move towards the city “with or without a deal” to achieve its goal of destroying the city Hamas armed group.

On Monday, Netanyahu accused Hamas of “torpedoing” the hostage deal and not backing down from its “extremist demands” while vowing to prevent the militants from regaining control of Gaza. In a fiery speech on Sunday evening to mark the country’s annual Holocaust anniversary, he rejected international pressure to stop the war, saying: “If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone.”

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A Hamas official told the Associated Press that Israel is trying to pressure the movement to make concessions on the ceasefire, but it will not change its demands. Hamas wants a complete end to the war, the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza, and the eventual reconstruction of the Strip in exchange for the release of Israeli hostages held by the movement.

Shoshani did not clarify whether the upcoming Rafah operation was a response to Sunday’s attack by Hamas, which forced Israel to close the main border crossing for aid. He added that this will not affect the amount of aid entering Gaza because other crossing points are still operational.

But he did not comment on the US warnings about the invasion and was not clear about whether this was issued on Monday or not The evacuation order was coordinated with Egypt.

Egypt, Israel’s strategic partner, said that an Israeli military seizure of the border between Gaza and Egypt – which is supposed to be demilitarized – or any move to push Palestinians into Egypt would threaten its security. The four-decade peace treaty with Israel.

In Rafah, people received leaflets on Monday morning in Arabic detailing which neighborhoods had to leave and where humanitarian zones had expanded. The leaflets said that relief services would extend from Deir al-Balah in the north to the center of the city of Khan Yunis in the central Gaza Strip.

“Anyone who is found near (extremist) organizations puts himself and his family members at risk. “For your safety, the army calls on you to evacuate immediately to the expanded humanitarian zone.”

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Palestinians in Rafah said people gathered to discuss their options after receiving the leaflets. Most of them said they did not want to move alone and preferred to travel in groups.

“A lot of people have been displaced here and now they have to move again, but no one will stay here, the situation is unsafe,” Nidal al-Zaanin told The Associated Press by phone.

Al-Zaanin, a father of five children, works for an international relief organization and was displaced to Rafah from Beit Hanoun in the north at the beginning of the war. He said people have been worried since Israeli forces fired on Palestinians as they moved during previous evacuation orders.

Al-Zaanin said that he had packed his documents and bags but would wait 24 hours to see what others would do before moving on. He said he has a friend in Khan Yunis and hopes he can set up a tent for his family.

But some people say they are so exhausted and tired of the months of devastation they can’t escape again.

Sahar Abu Nahl said that she was displaced to Rafah with 20 members of her family, her husband is detained by Israel, and her daughter’s husband is missing.

“Where shall I go? I have no money or anything. I am so tired, like my children,” she said, wiping the tears from her cheeks. “Maybe it would be honorable for us to die. “We are being insulted,” she said.

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Marwa reported from Beirut.

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