Photo Credit: AFP

Nearly 450,000 have fled Rafah, U.N. agency says

Almost 450,000 Palestinians have fled from Rafah over the past week, the U.N. says, as Israeli tanks reportedly push deeper into the southern Gaza city. Palestinians are fleeing from violence, famine, and increased military offensives. The Israeli military ordered civilians to evacuate eastern Rafah and Jabalia for their own safety before starting the assaults, but the total of those displaced in recent days is equivalent to almost a quarter of Gaza’s 2.3 million population. More than 35,170 people have been killed in Gaza, including 82 in the past 24 hours, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.

“People face constant exhaustion, hunger, and fear. Nowhere is safe. An immediate #ceasefire is the only hope,” UNRWA, the U.N. agency that provides relief to Palestinians, said in a post on the social platform X, formerly known as Twitter, on Tuesday.

Over the past week, no food has come in through the two major border crossings in the south of the strip, according to The Associated Press. The reported halt of food supplies comes as around 1.1 million Palestinians face drastic levels of hunger and the population is on the brink of starvation, according to the U.N.

Israel’s international allies, world leaders, and aid groups have repeatedly urged against a ground incursion into refugee-packed Rafah, warning of a potential humanitarian crisis. Israel says it is acting to evacuate civilians ahead of moving into new areas. It says a Rafah operation is necessary as part of its effort to eliminate Hamas’s remaining operational battalions. CNN reported overnight that the U.S. believes Israel has enough troops just outside Rafah to launch a full ground operation soon.

The World Court, also known as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), said it would hold hearings on Thursday and Friday to discuss a request by South Africa seeking new emergency measures over the Rafah incursion, which Qatar says has stalled efforts to reach a ceasefire.

“The tanks advanced this morning west of Salahuddin Road into the Brazil and Jneina neighborhoods. They are in the streets inside the built-up area and there are clashes,” one resident told Reuters via a chat app. Palestinian residents of western Rafah later said they could see smoke billowing above the eastern neighborhoods and hear the sound of explosions following an Israeli bombardment of a cluster of houses.


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