Israel to Palestinians in Rafah: Get Out

Directive suggests that a ground invasion in southern Gaza city is imminent
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 6, 2024 5:37 AM CDT
Israel Tells Palestinians to Get Out of Rafah
Israeli soldiers drive a tank at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, on Sunday.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Israeli army on Monday ordered tens of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza's southern city of Rafah to start evacuating from the area, signaling that a long-promised ground invasion there could be imminent. The announcement complicates last-ditch efforts by international mediators, including the director of the CIA, to broker a ceasefire, per the AP. The militant Hamas group and Qatar, a key mediator, have warned that invading Rafah, along the border with Egypt, could derail the talks, and the United States has repeatedly urged Israel against the invasion. However, Israel has described Rafah as the last significant Hamas stronghold after seven months of war, and its leaders have repeatedly said the invasion is necessary to defeat the Islamic militant group.

Lt. Col. Nadav Shoshani, an army spokesman, said some 100,000 people were being ordered to move to a nearby Israel-declared humanitarian zone called Muwasi. He said Israel was preparing a "limited-scope operation" and wouldn't say whether this was the beginning of a broader invasion of the city. But after Oct. 7 and the unprecedented attack on southern Israel by Hamas, Israel didn't formally announce the launch of a ground invasion that continues to this day. Overnight, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant told US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that Israel had no choice but to act in Rafah. On Sunday, Hamas carried out a deadly rocket attack from the Rafah area that killed four Israeli soldiers.

Shoshani said Israel published a map of the evacuation area, and that orders were being issued through air-dropped leaflets, text messages, and radio broadcasts. He said Israel has expanded humanitarian aid into Muwasi, including field hospitals, tents, food, and water. Israel's army said on X that it would act with "extreme force" against militants and urged the population to evacuate immediately for their safety. Israel's plan to invade Rafah has raised global alarm because of the potential for harm to more than a million Palestinian civilians sheltering there.

story continues below

About 1.4 million Palestinians—more than half of Gaza's population—are jammed into the city and its surroundings. Most of them fled their homes elsewhere in the territory to escape Israel's onslaught and now face another wrenching move or the danger of staying under a new assault. But some people say they're too tired and fed up after months of devastation to flee again. Sahar Abu Nahel was displaced to Rafah with 20 of her family, her husband is being held by Israel, and her son-in-law in missing, she said. "Where am I going to go? I have no money or anything. I am seriously tired, as are [my] children," she said wiping tears from her cheeks. "Maybe it's more honorable for us to die." More here. (More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.