Photo Credit: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90
Arabs in the rubble of a destroyed building in Rafah hit by the IAF after Hamas terrorists used it to launch rockets that killed 3 Israeli soldiers, May 5, 2024.

The IDF on Monday morning began the evacuation of the civilian population on the outskirts of Rafah, in preparation for a ground operation in the area. Leaflets were dropped on the neighborhoods located to the east of the city and near the Philadelphi axis, and residents received recorded voice messages and phone calls, as well as reports on Arab media, urging them to evacuate to the extended humanitarian zone.

The IDF estimates that about 100,000 civilians live in the neighborhoods whose residents were ordered to evacuate, and clarified that this is going to be a limited operation and not the evacuation of the entire city of Rafah.


The IDF spokesperson’s office stated: “The extended humanitarian zone includes field hospitals, tents, and increased amounts of food, water, medicine and other supplies. At the same time, in cooperation with international organizations and other countries, the IDF enables the expansion of the scope of humanitarian aid that enters the Strip.

“In accordance with the approval of the political echelon, the IDF calls on the population, which is under the control of Hamas, to temporarily evacuate from the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah to the extended humanitarian space. This matter will progress gradually according to ongoing situation assessments that will be taking place all the time.”

According to the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant Sunday night and the two discussed the ongoing hostage negotiations, humanitarian assistance efforts, and Rafah. Secretary Austin expressed his condolences for the IDF soldiers killed and wounded by a rocket and mortar attack launched by Hamas out of Rafah. The Secretary reaffirmed his commitment to the unconditional return of all hostages and stressed the need for any potential Israeli military operation in Rafah to include a credible plan to evacuate Palestinian civilians and maintain the flow of humanitarian aid.

Secretary Austin reiterated the United States’ commitment to supporting Israel’s defense.

Unfortunately, The Biden administration has halted a shipment of US-made ammunition to Israel, according to an Axios report on Sunday, citing two Israeli officials. Despite Sec. Austin’s promises, the White House opposes an IDF incursion into Rafah which would finish off Hamas. According to Axios, last week’s decision to place the shipment on hold was the first time since Hamas’s Oct. 7 massacre that the US has halted military aid to Israel (Biden Admin Reportedly Halted Arms Shipment to Israel).

The Wall Street Journal reported last Friday, citing Egyptian officials, that Israel gave Hamas a week to agree to a cease-fire that would include the release of the hostages, or Israel would go ahead with its military operation in Rafah.

The idea of Israel fighting amidst a dense civilian population triggers Egypt’s nightmare of a huge migration of Gazans into Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. In a worst-case scenario, such an outcome would jeopardize the 1979 peace treaty between Egypt and Israel.

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns arrived in Cairo on Friday and met with Egyptian officials in an effort to reach a deal.

The Harvard Caps Harris poll conducted on April 24-25 revealed that a strong majority of US voters continue to support Israel in the conflict in Gaza, and two-thirds feel Israel is trying to minimize Casualties. When asked, do they support Israel or Hamas more, 80% supported Israel and only 20% did Hamas.

When asked, do you think Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties in fighting its war against Hamas or not trying to avoid such casualties? 67% said Israel is trying to avoid civilian casualties, and 33% said it wasn’t.

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