Israel ordering new evacuations in Rafah, preparing to expand operations

Israel is ordering new evacuations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where over one million Palestinians are sheltering, as the country is preparing to expand its military operations.

People in Rafah were told by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to head north to the Al Mawasi area. They were also instructed to head west of Gaza City as the IDF looks to brace for what they say is a Palestinian militant group Hamas’ rebuild in the area, according to IDF’s Arabic-language spokesman Avichay Adraee’s early Saturday post on social media platform X.

The call for Palestinians to flee the area comes as Israel has faced opposition internationally in its quest to perform a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah. President Biden said earlier this week that he would withhold sending bombs to Israel if the country does go ahead with a full-blown operation in Rafah.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), one of the major aid agencies providing food, shelter and medicine to Palestinians, said that “at least” 300,000 people are affected by the new notifications to move out.

The agency estimated that around 150,000 people have fled Rafah since Monday.

“Over 100,000 people already displaced from Rafah are facing dire shortages of shelter, food, water and sanitation services,” according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

The calls for new evacuations in the area come shortly after the State Department released its highly-anticipated report, stating it was “reasonable to assess” violated humanitarian international law in its war operation in the Gaza Strip, but the review did not find specific examples of violation to pin wrongdoing to the U.S. ally.

Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) said the report, released on Friday, was “woefully inadequate.”

“While the administration has made some important general findings in this report, including the finding that it’s reasonable to conclude that Israel has violated international law in the use of American weapons, they all fall short of making difficult determinations in specific cases,” he said Friday.

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