Israeli army tells Palestinians to evacuate Rafah as part of 'limited scope' operation

Israeli army tells Palestinians to evacuate Rafah as part of 'limited scope' operation

The Israeli army has told Palestinians to begin evacuating eastern Rafah in anticipation of a planned ground invasion.

Military spokesperson Nadav Shoshani said that “around 100,000 people” are being ordered to move to a nearby Israel-declared humanitarian zone called Muwasi in preparation for the expected assault.

The evacuation “is part of our plans to dismantle Hamas...we had a violent reminder of their presence and their operational abilities in Rafah yesterday,” the military spokesman said on Monday.

“This is an evacuation plan to get people out of harm’s way.”

People flee the eastern parts of Rafah on Monday May 6 (REUTERS)
People flee the eastern parts of Rafah on Monday May 6 (REUTERS)

He said Israel was preparing a “limited scope operation” and would not say whether this was the beginning of a broader invasion of the city.

The move comes a day after Hamas militants carried out a deadly rocket attack from the area that killed three Israeli soldiers.

Mr Shoshani said Israel published a map of the evacuation area, and that orders were being issued through leaflets dropped from the sky, 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 Monday on the social platform X 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.

According to the World Health Organization, about 1.2 million people are currently taking refuge in Rafah, most having fled there from other parts of Gaza during the seven-month conflict between Israel and Hamas militants.

Israel claims Rafah, in southern Gaza, is Hamas’s final stronghold, with four unharmed battalions and remnants of other dismantled battalions that have retreated since the ground invasion began.

It comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected ceasefire proposals following negotiations in Egypt.

Negotiations collapsed on Sunday after Hamas said it would reject any deal that failed to end the war in the Palestinian territory.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, in turn said he cannot accept Hamas' demands for an end to the war or the withdrawal of IDF forces from Gaza. The Hamas delegation left the Cairo talks last night to consult with its leadership.

Speaking to troops on Sunday, Israel’s defence minister Yoav Gallant warned his government was preparing to launch “a powerful operation in the very near future in Rafah and other places across all of Gaza”.

“We have clear goals for this war: we are committed to the elimination of Hamas and the release of the hostages, we have identified alarming signs that Hamas actually does not intend to go for any agreementframework with us.

“What this means is an operation in Rafah and the entire Gaza Strip in the very near future,” he said.