Photo by IDF Spokesperson on 28 March, 2024

Israel Begins Evacuating Palestinians From Rafah

Public By Pesach Benson • 6 May, 2024

Jerusalem, 6 May, 2024 (TPS) -- The Israel Defense Forces began evacuating Palestinians in parts of Rafah on Monday, ahead of an expected military advance on the city.

Phone calls, SMS messages, air-dropped flyers, and media broadcasts instructed residents of several camps and neighborhoods to evacuate to expanded humanitarian zones in Khan Yunis and the coastal area of Al-Mawasi. The flyers included maps showing the affected zones, and aid organizations were updated on the evacuation plans.

“The IDF will continue pursuing Hamas everywhere in Gaza until all the hostages that they’re holding in captivity are back home,” the IDF said.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, in a phone call with his US counterpart Lloyd Austin, said that the collapse of Qatari-mediated talks for a temporary ceasefire and prisoner release meant, “There was no choice left and this meant the start of the Israeli operation in Rafah.”

Rafah, on Gaza’s border with Egypt, is the last stronghold of Hamas.

Hamas is believed to have four battalions in Rafah. Control of the town allows Hamas to commandeer humanitarian aid deliveries entering the Strip, while raising Israeli fears that the terror group will smuggle hostages into the Sinai.

Cairo denies weapons are being smuggled across the border, saying that in recent years, its military has destroyed 1,500 tunnels, built a six-meter-high wall, and created a five-kilometer-wide security buffer on the Egyptian side.

The Egypt-Gaza border is technically a demilitarized zone under the terms of the Camp David Accords signed in 1978.

To prevent weapons smuggling after Israel’s disengagement from Gaza in 2006, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority reached an agreement to create a buffer zone along the border known as the Philadelphi Corridor. Cairo’s plans to secure the Egyptian side of the border with armed troops required Israel’s assent.

The next year, Hamas violently seized control of Gaza from the PA.

Palestinians camped in the Philadelphi corridor were also instructed to evacuate.

Meanwhile, the Kerem Shalom border crossing remained closed following Hamas’s deadly rocket barrage on Sunday. Three soldiers were killed and 11 others injured when rockets struck the crossing. Hamas claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas fired the rockets from a position adjacent to the Rafah border crossing. The launcher and other Hamas targets in Rafah were destroyed in airstrikes.

Of all of Gaza’s border crossings, Kerem Shalom is equipped to handle the largest number of trucks daily.

At least 1,200 people were killed and 240 Israelis and foreigners were taken hostage in Hamas’s attacks on Israeli communities near the Gaza border on October 7. Around 30 of the remaining 133 hostages are believed dead.t