Kuala Lumpur Post

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Israeli military begins evacuating Palestinian civilians from Rafah

JERUSALEM — Israel’s armed forces have begun evacuating Palestinian civilians from Rafah ahead of a threatened assault on the southern Gazan city, an Israeli broadcaster said today.

The military gave no immediate confirmation of the report on Army Radio, which said evacuations were focused on a few peripheral districts of Rafah, from which evacuees would be directed to tent cities in nearby Khan Younis and Al Muwassi.

In what appeared to be the beginning of a civilian evacuation ahead of a ground assault, however, the Israeli military called on Palestinians in eastern parts of Rafah to move to a nearby “humanitarian area”.

In a statement, the military said posters, text messages, phone calls and media announcements would be used to “encourage … the gradual movement of civilians in the specified areas”.

Seven months into its offensive against Hamas, Israel has said Rafah harbours thousands of the Palestinian Islamist group’s fighters and that victory is impossible without taking the city.

But with more than a million displaced Palestinians sheltering in Rafah, the prospect of a high-casualty operation worries western powers and neighbouring Egypt. — Reuters