Israel orders a partial evacuation of Rafah in Gaza Strip

Yesterday, as the military ordered roughly 110,000 residents of Rafah, in southern Gaza, to evacuate, Israeli airplanes bombarded sites there. A few hours later, Ismail Haniyeh, the political head of Hamas, announced that the organisation had agreed to a cease-fire offered by Qatar and Egypt.

In eastern Rafah, the Israeli military started distributing leaflets instructing residents to relocate to what it described as a humanitarian zone to the north. It also promised to notify residents via text messages, phone calls, and Arabic-language broadcasts. On Monday night, the Israeli military launched another round of what it described as “targeted strikes” against Hamas in Rafah.

Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, released a statement a few hours after the evacuation order, stating that the party has agreed to a fresh cease-fire proposal from Qatar and Egypt, who have served as peace negotiators. The matter remained unresolved as both the organisation and Israeli officials clarified that they were not referring to the proposal that Israel just accepted.

Israel ordered a partial evacuation of Rafah Gaza

White House national security spokesman John F. Kirby stated that the US was evaluating the Hamas statement but declined to comment further. The prime minister’s office stated that while Israeli authorities stated they would evaluate the idea as well, it did not satisfy Israel’s requirements.

Israel and Hamas continue to hold severe disagreements about the length of any truce, and both parties blame the other for the lack of progress in the negotiations, which seemed to come to a standstill on Sunday. Whereas Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated that Israel would invade Rafah with or without an agreement, Hamas demands a lasting cease-fire.

In a statement from his office, Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant said, “We are committed to achieving the war’s objectives, but Hamas’s rejection of any framework that would allow the release of the hostages compels us to start the Rafah operation” during a meeting with the hostages’ relatives on Monday.

“All efforts to return the hostages will continue, even after the start of the operation in Rafah,” Mr. Gallant declared.

The evacuation order, according to a statement released on Monday by Salama Marouf, the head of the Gaza government media office controlled by Hamas, indicates that Israel “went into truce negotiations deceptively, without abandoning the idea of a broad aggression against Rafah.” The announcement, according to him, was “a real test of the seriousness” of the nations that had issued the warning against a city invasion.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society reported that there had been “escalating Israeli airstrikes” in regions east of the city on Monday, and thousands of civilians were evacuating Rafah. The director of Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, Dr. Marwan al-Hams, stated in an interview that his facility had recently treated 50 wounded patients and had received the bodies of 26 Palestinian Hamas soldiers who had died by Israeli fire.

The US, Israel’s strongest ally, has pleaded with it not to launch a significant offensive into Rafah without a workable plan to safeguard the city’s civilian population, many of whom fled from it before Israeli airstrikes and ground incursions into other parts of Gaza. There are roughly a million people living in the city, many of whom are residing in improvised tents. It serves as a major gateway for Egyptian help as well.