Blaming Hamas for the impasse in negotiations, Israel appears ready to launch a threatened offensive on the southern city of Gaza.

The Israeli army appears poised to launch its long-threatened assault on Rafah, while instructing Palestinians to abandon parts of the city in southern Gaza.

Israeli forces on Monday asked people in Rafah, where large numbers of displaced Palestinians were previously pushed, to evacuate to “an expanded humanitarian area.” The move came at a time when Israel and Hamas blamed each other for the failure of truce negotiations.

The Israeli military said in social media posts that it “encourages” residents east of Rafah to move to an area of ​​the al-Mawasi refugee camp, located on the Mediterranean west of Khan Younis.

The army said calls for a “temporary” relocation would be “conveyed through leaflets, SMS messages, phone calls and media broadcasts in Arabic”.

“[As forças israelenses] will continue to persecute Hamas everywhere in Gaza until all the hostages they are holding captive return home,” he said.

In a post on .

An Israeli military spokesman told journalists that around 100,000 people were being evacuated.

A Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri, told Reuters that Israel’s evacuation order and expected offensive is a “dangerous escalation that will have consequences.”

No refuge

Despite urgent warnings of a humanitarian disaster from his country’s allies, including the United States, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted for weeks that an attack on Rafah must take place.

Israel says the city is a refuge for Hamas commandos and fighters who must be exterminated as part of Netanyahu’s pledge to deliver “total victory” over the Palestinian group.

However, NGOs on the ground warn that there is no refuge for the large number of people in Rafah. The displaced people were previously driven into the city by Israeli attacks in other areas of Gaza, and the city’s population is estimated to have increased to around 1.4 million. It is unclear where these people will be able to find safety from a military offensive.

The United Nations Palestine Refugee Agency (UNRWA) warned in a social media post that an Israeli offensive would inflict more suffering and death on a Palestinian population that, according to health authorities, has killed more than 34,000 since October.

Translation: An Israeli offensive on #Rafah it would mean more civilian suffering and deaths. The consequences would be devastating for 1.4 million people @UNRWA
is not evacuating: the Agency will maintain a presence in Rafah as long as possible and will continue to provide vital aid to people

The evacuation order came after a night of intense Israeli shelling that killed 22 people, including eight children, in the city.

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Rafah, noted that the order came “in the wake of the Hamas attack on the Karem Abu Salem crossing, known in Hebrew as Kerem Shalom, and an intense Israeli response, in which they carried out 11 airstrikes . , targeting areas in the eastern part of Rafah city.

“It is important to highlight that until now all evacuation zones designated by the Israeli military have not been safe for displaced families. In fact, these areas have been constantly under attack, whether in western Khan Younis or here in Rafah, where 1.5 million people are sheltering,” he said.


Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said in a statement that a military operation in Rafah is necessary due to Hamas’ refusals of mediated proposals for a truce in Gaza, under which it would release some captives.

A Hamas official said the group’s negotiating delegation was heading to Doha for “consultations” after the last round of talks in Cairo failed to produce an agreement.

CIA Director Bill Burns is expected in Qatar on Monday for “emergency” talks on mediation efforts with Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani, a source told AFP news agency.

Hamas negotiators have maintained their position that any agreement must include a permanent end to the war within the enclave, Palestinian officials said.

Israel has refused a full ceasefire, offering instead a pause in fighting to allow for a prisoner exchange. Netanyahu is under increasing pressure to secure the release of the approximately 130 prisoners who remain in Gaza. However, he is also being pressured by his hard-line coalition partners to continue the war.

Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Rafah, said there had been “a great sense of optimism” in recent days among Palestinians regarding talks in Cairo between Hamas and Israel.

“But this subsided following media reports of the same points of contention between Hamas and Israel,” he said.

Belgian Deputy Prime Minister Petra De Sutter warned that an invasion of Rafah would lead to a “massacre” and declared that her country is working on new sanctions against Israel.



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