IDF issues evacuation order to 100,000 in Rafah as looming assault sparks fear of bloodbath in Gaza

Israel Defense Forces order more than 100,000 Palestinians to evacuate Rafah ahead of an impending military offensive, despite warnings of humanitarian catastrophe.

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מצורפות בזו תמונות מהפינוי בתכנית ההתנתקות. בתמונה: הפינוי בישוב בדולח היום. כמו כן, ניתן לצפות בתמונות ובקטעי וידאו נבחרים בארכיון התמונות של דובר צה”ל באמצעות שרת ה-FTP שכתובתו: ftp://147.237.73.203. Attached are photographs from the ongoing disengagement plan. Seen in the photo : The evacuation of the Israeli community of Bedolach. In addition, it is possible to view select stills and video clips from the image archives of the IDF Spokesperson's Bureau via FTP Server: ftp://147.237.73.203. שם משתמש וסיסמא: User Name & Password: pressguest

Amid mounting global alarm and a looming ground assault, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) ordered roughly 100,000 people living in Rafah to evacuate the southern Gaza city. This mass relocation directive has caused terror among already displaced families and intensified international warnings of an imminent humanitarian disaster.

Rafah, a border city in southern Gaza, has become a refuge for nearly 1.4 million displaced Palestinians following the outbreak of violence in October. The city, which lies along Gaza’s southern border with Egypt, has been characterized by Israel as the last significant Hamas stronghold after seven months of hostilities. On Monday, the IDF dropped leaflets ordering some of Rafah’s residents to move to Al-Mawasi, a narrow strip along Gaza’s coast. This move signals the long-feared ground assault is imminent.

These evacuation orders come after months of escalating conflict, which began on October 7 when Hamas launched an attack on Israel. The IDF aims to secure Rafah to prevent Hamas from regrouping, despite vocal opposition from international humanitarian organizations and governments. The United States, Israel’s primary arms supplier, has warned against an attack without a credible evacuation plan, citing the absence of genuinely safe locations for Gazans to find shelter.

The IDF’s directive has left Rafah’s residents, especially families with children, grappling with chaos and fear. Jan Egeland, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, denounced the orders as “beyond alarming,” stating that the region is overstretched and lacks adequate infrastructure to provide shelter or safety. The IDF’s evacuation instructions amount to forcible transfer, a serious violation of international humanitarian law, according to Egeland.

Catherine Russell, Executive Director of UNICEF, expressed concerns over the impact of the assault on children, noting that up to 600,000 are currently sheltering in Rafah. She emphasized that these children face not only the physical threat of violence but also the psychological trauma of panic and chaos after enduring months of conflict.

UNRWA, the United Nations agency responsible for providing relief in Gaza, remains committed to its humanitarian mission, rejecting the evacuation orders and pledging to continue operations. The organization condemned the evacuation push, noting that any assault on Rafah will only exacerbate the suffering of already vulnerable civilians.

The United States, which was notified of the IDF’s orders overnight, dispatched CIA Director William Burns to Israel for discussions. Efforts to broker a ceasefire have been ongoing, but the IDF’s imminent offensive in Rafah could complicate these negotiations.

Qatar, which has played a role in mediation, warned that an invasion would derail negotiations. Despite this, the Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remains resolute, characterizing the operation as crucial to defeat Hamas, which Israel blames for initiating the conflict.

Human Rights Watch also criticized the orders, with Director Omar Shakir calling the evacuation push “unlawful and catastrophic.” He urged the international community to intervene to prevent further atrocities, emphasizing that “there’s nowhere safe to go in Gaza.”

Hours before the evacuation orders, the Israeli government shut down Al Jazeera’s operations in the country, confiscating equipment and restricting the network’s ability to report from Gaza. Assal Rad, a Middle East analyst, linked the media ban with the imminent offensive, arguing that Israel is trying to prevent journalists from exposing potential war crimes.

“The IDF is about to operate with force against the terror organizations in the area you currently reside,” the army stated in its evacuation order. “Anyone in the area puts themselves and their family members in danger.”

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