Israel bombs south and north of Gaza amid mass Palestinian exodus from Rafah

Rafah, Gaza - More than 800,000 Palestinians have been forced to flee the city of Rafah as Israel's unrelenting assault on Gaza continued to cause death and destruction.

Israel continued to bomb Rafah as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled Gaza's southern city.
Israel continued to bomb Rafah as hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled Gaza's southern city.  © AFP

Philippe Lazzarini of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees said that since Israel's Rafah operation began, there had been a massive movement of people.

"800,000 people are on the road having been forced to flee since the Israeli forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May", the UNRWA chief said on X.

He said people were fleeing to areas without water supplies or adequate sanitation.

Strike on Rafah encampment kills dozens as Israel denies blame – despite eyewitness reports
Israel-Gaza War Strike on Rafah encampment kills dozens as Israel denies blame – despite eyewitness reports

It came as political divisions in Israel's war cabinet burst into the open on Saturday night, with minister Benny Gantz saying he would quit unless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved a post-war plan for the Gaza Strip.

Gantz called for six goals to be met, including establishing a multinational civilian administration for Gaza.

Netanyahu hit back, calling the threat "washed-up words" that would mean "defeat for Israel".

North and south of Gaza under attack

Israeli forces have also returned to the north of Gaza, where they launched attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp, killing and wounding scores of people.
Israeli forces have also returned to the north of Gaza, where they launched attacks on the Jabalia refugee camp, killing and wounding scores of people.  © AFP

Meanwhile, Hamas's armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said it fired a barrage of rockets towards Israel's port of Ashkelon and targeted an Israeli command center at the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

Late Saturday, Israel's military issued new evacuation orders for parts of northern Gaza, saying militants in the area had fired rockets at Israel.

Earlier, an AFP reporter said air strikes and artillery pounded eastern Rafah as warplanes overflew the city on Gaza's border with Egypt.

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More than 10 days into what the army continues to call a "limited" Rafah operation that sparked the mass exodus, fighting has also flared again in northern Gaza.

Israel said in early January it had dismantled Hamas' command structure in the north, but has since contradicted its claims by announcing that the militant group had been "in complete control" of Jabalia until the Israeli army recently returned.

Hamas slammed what it called Israel's "escalating crimes of the occupation" and "intensified brutal raids" on Jabalia, saying they had killed dozens of civilians and wounded hundreds.

Israel keeps land vital crossings closed

Aid groups say Israel's Rafah incursion, launched despite overwhelming international opposition, has worsened an already catastrophic crisis, which increasing numbers of experts argue has crossed the threshold into genocide.

With key land crossings closed or operating at limited capacity because of the fighting, some aid began entering Gaza via a temporary floating pier built by the US, which continues to arm and back Israel diplomatically.

But UN agencies and humanitarian aid groups have said sea or air deliveries cannot replace more efficient truck convoys into Gaza, amid repeated warnings that famine has already set in.

The Rafah crossing, a vital conduit for humanitarian aid, has been closed since Israel launched its operation in the city.

Cover photo: AFP

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