Israel Begins Evacuating Civilians From Rafah Ahead of Expected Assault

IDF tanks (AP)
May 6, 2024

The Israel Defense Forces on Monday announced it is evacuating civilians from eastern Rafah to a humanitarian zone ahead of its planned military operation to enter Rafah and eliminate Hamas terrorists.

The Israeli military—using leaflets, text messages, and phone calls in Arabic—ordered Palestinian civilians to leave eastern Rafah immediately for a nearby humanitarian zone called Muwasi, according to the Jerusalem Post.

Around 100,000 Palestinians were told on Monday to evacuate to Muwasi, which is already sheltering nearly half a million Palestinian refugees. The IDF said it has recently expanded the humanitarian zone to include more food, water, tents, medical supplies, and field hospitals. 

Israel is also working with international groups to allow more aid into Gaza, including providing security for American troops who are constructing a humanitarian pier off the coast of Gaza.

The Israeli government reportedly decided on the evacuation Sunday evening, and Israel’s defense minister Yoav Gallant informed secretary of defense Lloyd Austin about the decision overnight.

Austin in response said an Israeli military operation in Rafah would need to have a "credible plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians and maintain the flow of humanitarian aid."

President Joe Biden has repeatedly objected to Israel’s planned operation in Rafah, but Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed the IDF would move forward with the invasion, citing the need to eliminate the last significant Hamas stronghold in Gaza.

"The IDF will continue to operate in order to realize the goals of the war, including the dismantling of Hamas and the return of all the hostages," the IDF said in its Monday announcement. 

Just hours after the announcement, Hamas said it had accepted a ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar. "The bill is now firmly in Benjamin Netanyahu’s court," a source familiar with the ceasefire talks told CNN. Details of the ceasefire deal remain unknown, and there is no indication that Israel has agreed to the proposal.

A poll in late April found that nearly three-quarters of Americans support Israel’s planned invasion of Rafah. Seventy-two percent of Americans think Israel should "move forward with an operation in Rafah to finish the war with Hamas, doing its best to avoid civilian casualties even though there will be casualties," according to the Harvard CAPS/Harris poll.

Published under: Hamas , IDF , Israel