*** ----> 800,000 Palestinians forced to flee Rafah amid intense Israeli assault | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

800,000 Palestinians forced to flee Rafah amid intense Israeli assault

AFP | Rafah   

The Daily Tribune – www.newsofbahrain.com

Heavy clashes and bombardment rocked the southern Gaza city of Rafah yesterday, as the United Nations said 800,000 people had been “forced to flee” an Israeli assault on Hamas fighters.

Israel’s military said its air forces hit more than 70 targets across Gaza while ground troops conducted “targeted raids” in eastern Rafah, killing 50 Hamas fighters and locating dozens of tunnel shafts.

Philippe Lazzarini, head of the UN agency for Palestinian refugees UNRWA, said that since Israel’s Rafah operation began, there had been a massive movement of people.

“Nearly half of the 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,” he said in a post on X.

He said people were fleeing to areas without water supplies or adequate sanitation. Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, said it fired a barrage of rockets towards Israel’s port of Ashkelon and targeted an Israeli command centre at the Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza.

An AFP reporter said air strikes and artillery pounded eastern Rafah as warplanes overflew the city on Gaza’s border with Egypt.

More than 10 days into what the army called a “limited” operation in Rafah that sparked an exodus of Palestinians, fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian fighters has also flared again in northern Gaza.

Israel said in early January it had dismantled Hamas’s command structure in the north, but the army said Hamas - whose October 7 attack sparked the war - had been “in complete control here in Jabalia until we arrived a few days ago”.

Hamas slammed what it called Israel’s “escalating crimes of the occupation” and “intensified brutal raids” on Jabalia, saying they had killed dozens of civilians and wounded hundreds more.

Incursion Aid groups say Israel’s Rafah incursion, launched despite overwhelming international opposition and as mediators were hoping for a breakthrough in stalled truce talks, has worsened an already dire humanitarian crisis.

With key land crossings closed or operating at limited capacity because of the fighting, some aid began entering Gaza via a temporary US-built floating pier.