UN Reports 800,000 Palestinians Forced to Flee Israeli Offensive in Rafah

Sat May 18 2024
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RAFAH: The head of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) said Saturday that 800,000 Palestinian people had been “forced to flee” Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah since Israel launched military operations there this month.
“Nearly half of the Palestinian population of Rafah or 800,000 people are on the road having been forced to flee since the Israeli forces started the military operation in the area on 6 May,” UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said in a post on the social media site X.
In response to evacuation orders issued by Israeli forces, Gazans have sought refuge in makeshift shelters in the middle areas and Khan Younis, amidst the rubble of destroyed buildings. Lazzarini painted a grim picture of the plight of Palestinians forced to flee, describing how they are compelled to abandon their meager possessions and start anew each time they are displaced. “Every time, they are forced to leave behind the few belongings they have ….Every time, they have to start from scratch, all over again.”
Israel has defended its ground assault on Rafah as essential to its campaign against Hamas. Before the operation, Israel had warned hundreds of thousands of Gazans residing in eastern parts of Rafah to evacuate.
However, the scale of displacement and the severity of the military offensive have drawn condemnation from international quarters, including Israel’s closest ally, the United States. Despite objections raised by the US, Israeli forces have continued to press their assault on Rafah.
Reports from the ground indicate that air strikes and artillery shells have relentlessly targeted eastern areas of Rafah, while warplanes maintain a constant presence in the skies above. Lazzarini voiced concerns over the dire humanitarian situation faced by displaced Palestinians, noting the lack of access to water supplies and adequate sanitation in areas where they seek refuge.
Al-Mawasi, a coastal town covering 14 square kilometers, and the central city of Deir el-Balah have become overcrowded with recently displaced Palestinians, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

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