360,000 People Have Fled Rafah Since Evacuation Order: UN


(MENAFN- IANS) Tel Aviv, May 13 (IANS/DPA) Almost 360,000 people have fled the southern city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip since the Israeli army
issued the first evacuation orders a week ago, according to UN figures.

"There's nowhere to go. There's NO safety without a #ceasefire," the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) wrote on X on Monday

Rafah, which is already overcrowded with internally displaced persons, is seen as the militant
Palestinian organization Hamas' last stronghold.

Fierce fighting between Israel's army
and armed Palestinians continued on Monday at various locations in the north, south and centre of the coastal strip.

UNRWA's statement added that in northern Gaza, bombardments and further evacuation orders have caused more displacement and "fear for thousands of families."

The military arm of Hamas reported on Telegram about attacks
on Israeli troops
in various locations, including in Rafah in the south as well as in the refugee neighbourhood of Jabalia and in al-Saitun in northern Gaza.

There were fresh rocket alerts on Monday in Israeli border towns on the edge of the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defence Minister
Yoav Gallant spoke by telephone with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the situation in the Gaza Strip, according to reports on Monday.

According to his office, Gallant discussed the "developments in Gaza, including [Israel Defense Forces] operations across the strip in the face of terror hotspots, and the precise operation in the Rafah area against remaining Hamas battalions, while securing the [Rafah border] crossing."

Blinken reiterated that the United States remains opposed to a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, "where over 1 million people have taken shelter," a US State Department spokesman said.

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