NewsIsrael's tanks penetrate Rafah amid mass evacuations and clashes

Israel's tanks penetrate Rafah amid mass evacuations and clashes

Israeli tanks are entering Rafah
Israeli tanks are entering Rafah
Images source: © forum | Amir Cohen / Reuters / Forum

8:12 AM EDT, May 14, 2024

Israeli tanks have advanced deep into eastern Rafah, encroaching upon residential areas by Tuesday, as reported by Reuters. This movement came after a staggering 396,000 people evacuated the city.

In their conflict against the Hamas terrorist group within the semi-enclave, the Israeli army had previously informed Rafah residents of their plan to launch an offensive, urging them to evacuate eastern and central districts.

Israel identifies Rafah as a critical stronghold where untouched, fully-armed Hamas battalions are positioned alongside an extensive network of unbreached underground tunnels.

"The tanks advanced this morning west of Salahuddin Road into the Brzail and Jneina neighborhoods. They are in the streets inside the built-up area, and there are clashes," a Rafah resident told Reuters.

Israel has been vocal about its determination to take Rafah, even without external support, emphasizing the operation's critical nature for neutralizing the four remaining Hamas battalions in the city.

The military branch of Hamas claimed to have destroyed an Israeli aircraft carrier using an Al-Yassin 105 missile in the Al-Salam eastern district, resulting in multiple Israeli casualties.

At least 396,000 people have evacuated

The ABC, quoting UN agency sources, reported on Monday that a minimum of 396,000 individuals have fled from Rafah, located at the Gaza Strip's border with Egypt. This city, home to over 200,000 people until the previous October, has also become a refuge for more than a million displaced individuals from the Strip's north since the conflict's onset.

The US has expressed concern that a full-scale offensive in Rafah, endangering civilian lives, could impede potential ceasefire agreements and broader peace negotiations. On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated the country's opposition to the offensive during a CBS interview, cautioning that it could lead to a "permanent uprising."

A few hours after the interview, Blinken and Israel's Defense Minister Yoav Gallant discussed the Rafah operation. According to Reuters, their conversation touched upon the "precise operation" being conducted in the city, including Israel's recent takeover of the Rafah border crossing. Israel has consistently pointed out security lapses at the crossing, controlled by Egyptian forces, as a conduit for illicit arms trafficking and unauthorized entry into the Strip.

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