Israel prepares to evacuate one million Palestinians from Rafah ahead of invasion

The IDF has recruited two reserve brigades for the upcoming offensive in Hamas’ last stronghold in Gaza


Israel has announced plans to evacuate Gaza's southern city of Rafah where some 1.4 million internally displaced Palestinians are sheltering as the IDF prepares for a ground invasion. (Photo by Ahmad Hasaballah/Getty Images)

Israel is preparing to evacuate one million Palestinian civilians from Rafah ahead of an imminent ground invasion against Hamas, Israeli news sources reported on Tuesday evening.

The evacuation will reportedly involve moving civilians to the nearby city of Khan Younis, under two miles from Rafah, where Israel will establish shelters with food and medical facilities in coordination with international aid organisations.

According to Israeli government sources, the Israeli Defense Ministry has procured 40,000 tents, each with the capacity for 10-12 people, to house Palestinians relocated from Rafah.

The evacuation, expected to take roughly a month, marks the first stage of the proposed Rafah offensive, according to a report by Reuters on Wednesday. The IDF is then expected to gradually move troops into Rafah and target areas where it believes Hamas leaders and operatives are hiding.

According to Israeli intelligence sources, Rafah is home to four intact Hamas combat battalions and believed to be the final bastion of the terrorist organisation in Gaza.

Brigadier-General Itzik Cohen, commander of the 162nd Division operating in Gaza, told Kan public TV on Tuesday: “Hamas was hit hard in the northern sector. It was also hit hard in the centre of the Strip. And soon it will be hit hard in Rafah, too.

“Hamas should know that when the IDF goes into Rafah, it would do best to raise its hands in surrender. Rafah will not be the Rafah of today... There won’t be munitions there. And there won't be hostages there.”

The IDF announced on Wednesday that two reservist brigades have been mobilised for missions in Gaza.

Palestinians have been driven to shelter in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city, as the six-month Israeli offensive has forced civilians from their homes across the rest of the Gaza Strip. The city, which borders Egypt, hosted a population of about 275,000 Palestinians before the war, but has since become a refuge point for over one million.

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