UNRWA chief: About 800,000 people have fled Rafah

Since the Israeli military operation in Rafah began nearly two weeks ago, some 800,000 people have fled the city in the southern Gaza Strip, according to the UN Palestine Relief Agency (UNRWA). Once again, half of Rafah’s population is on the streets, forced to leave since Israeli military operations began in the area on May 6, UNRWA chief Philip Lazzarini said this evening. In Rafah, the Israeli leadership says it wants to destroy the last battalions of Islamist Hamas believed to be there.

Great resistance to attack

Allies such as the United States have repeatedly warned Israel against a large-scale attack on the city, which borders Egypt and is home to hundreds of thousands of internally displaced Palestinians. But Israel is sticking to its offensive plans for Rafah.

About one million people sought protection from fighting in the rest of the Gaza Strip until Israeli military operations in the area began. The Israeli army advanced on the city from the east almost two weeks ago and has already destroyed an Islamist rocket launch site. Israeli reports say 50 Hamas fighters were killed in Rafah today.

“No Safe Zones”

Lazzarini wrote that people responded to Israeli calls to evacuate, moving to “safe areas” in the middle of the closed coastal zone and to Khan Yunis. However, these areas do not have clean drinking water or sanitation facilities. The claim that people in Gaza can move to “safe” or “humanitarian” areas is false.

“There are no safe zones in Gaza.” He called on the parties to the conflict to allow the rapid delivery of humanitarian aid. “After all, it’s time to agree to a truce.”

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