Israel orders Palestinians to evacuate from more areas of Rafah


Israel called for Palestinians in more areas of Gaza's southern city of Rafah to evacuate and head to what it calls an expanded humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi, in a further indication that the military is pressing ahead with its plans for a ground attack on Rafah.

The Israeli military also called on residents and displaced people in the Jabalia area of northern Gaza to clear out, saying it was returning to operate there after it noticed Hamas trying to re-establish its control of the area.

The Palestinian health ministry said at least 37 Palestinians, 24 of them from central Gaza areas, were killed in overnight airstrikes across the enclave, including in Rafah, the Strip's southernmost city bordering Egypt.

"They threw fliers on Rafah and said, from Rafah to al-Zawayda is safe, people should evacuate there, and they did, and what has become of them? Dismembered bodies? There is no safe place in Gaza," Khitam Al-Khatib, who said she had lost at least 10 of her relatives in an airstrike on a family house earlier on Saturday, told Reuters.

Al-Zawayda is a small town in central Gaza Strip that has been crowded by thousands of displaced people from across the enclave.

The Israeli military said its aircraft struck tens of targets across Gaza over the past day, adding its ground troops had eliminated some 30 fighters in Zeitoun.

An Israeli airstrike killed at least seven people in a house in Beit Lahiya town in the northern Gaza Strip, all from the same family, medics said. Residents said Israeli tanks have been stationed in the town.

In Rafah, where the health ministry said 16 people were killed, residents told Reuters the new evacuation orders by the Israeli military covered areas in the centre of the city and left little doubt Israel planned to expand its ground offensive there.

"The situation is very difficult, people are leaving their homes in panic," said Khaled, 35, a resident of the Shaboura neighbourhood, an area where the new orders to leave have been issued.

The Israeli military said it was continuing operational activity against Hamas fighters in eastern Rafah and on the Gazan side of the Rafah crossing.


More from International