Israeli Tanks Advance Towards Rafah: 110 Thousand People Leave the City

Israeli tanks are advancing on the main road that divides the eastern and western parts of the town of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli media reported today.

by Sededin Dedovic
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Israeli Tanks Advance Towards Rafah: 110 Thousand People Leave the City
© Amir Levy / Getty Images

Israeli tanks are advancing along the main road that divides the eastern and western parts of the city of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, Israeli media reports from agencies today. The Israeli army announced that it had taken control of the Salah al-Din road in a military operation in eastern Rafah late on Monday.

Now it appears that the tanks have continued to move further along that road, although they are still in the area where the evacuation of residents has been ordered. They say that explosions and gunfire almost do not cease east and northeast of the city, and that fierce fighting is taking place between Israeli forces and operatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Hamas claims to have set up an ambush for Israeli tanks near a mosque in the eastern part of the city, meaning that the Israeli army has entered several kilometers from the east near the built-up area of the city. Israel ordered residents of the eastern suburb of Rafah to evacuate from there earlier this week.

The military estimates that around 150,000 Palestinians have already evacuated from eastern Rafah. Over a million Palestinians who have fled from other parts of the enclave since the beginning of the war on October 7 are in the city itself and have not yet been called to evacuate.

More than 110,000 people have fled from the city of Rafah under the threat of large-scale Israeli attacks, UN officials said today. Rafah residents are heading to areas considered less dangerous in the Gaza Strip. "About 30,000 people leave the city every day," said Georgios Petropoulos, head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Gaza.

He added that "most of these people have had to be displaced five or six times" since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in October last year. Israeli forces intensified strikes in the Gaza Strip today as the two sides left Cairo talks without an agreement on reaching a ceasefire and preventing an Israeli offensive on Rafah.

An official said the Israeli delegation is returning from the Egyptian capital and that Israel will continue its operation in Rafah and other parts of the Gaza Strip as planned.

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