Israel army says about 100,000 people being evacuated from east Rafah

A man sits on rubble in the debris of a destroyed building following Israeli attacks on the al-Salam Neighborhood in Rafah, Gaza on May 5, 2024. (Photograph: Abed Rahim Khatib / Anadolu / Getty Images)

The Israeli army said Monday it was evacuating about 100,000 people from eastern Rafah, ahead of an expected ground assault in the southern city of Gaza.

“The estimate is around 100,000 people,” a military spokesman told journalists when asked how many people were being evacuated.

About 1.2 million people are currently sheltering in Rafah, according to the World Health Organization, most having fled there from elsewhere in Gaza during the seven-month war between Israel and Hamas Palestinian militants.

The evacuation “is part of our plans to dismantle Hamas … we had a violent reminder of their presence and their operational abilities in Rafah yesterday,” the military spokesman said.

“This is an evacuation plan to get people out of harm’s way.”

On Sunday, three Israeli soldiers were killed and a dozen wounded, the army said, when a barrage of rockets was fired towards the Kerem Shalom border crossing between Israel and Gaza.

The army said the rockets were fired from an area adjacent to Rafah.

The soldiers were hit while guarding heavy machinery, tanks and bulldozers stationed in the area.

Rain fell on Monday as the army airdropped leaflets advising about the evacuation, an AFP correspondent said.

Hamas’s armed wing claimed the rocket attack, which led Israeli authorities to close the crossing, used to deliver aid into Gaza.