May 26, 2024

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The war between Israel and Hamas: 360,000 Palestinians fled Rafah during the past week, according to the United Nations agency

The war between Israel and Hamas: 360,000 Palestinians fled Rafah during the past week, according to the United Nations agency

RAFAH (Gaza Strip) – Aid workers struggled Monday to distribute food and other dwindling supplies to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians displaced by what Israel says is a limited military operation in Rafah, as the two main crossings near southern Gaza City remained closed. .

The United Nations Palestinian Refugee Agency said that 360,000 Palestinians fled Rafah during the past week, out of 1.3 million who had sought refuge there before the start of the operation. Most of them had already fled fighting elsewhere during that period The seven-month-long war between Israel and Hamas.

Israel portrayed Rafah as the movement’s last stronghold, ignoring warnings from the United States and other allies that any major operation there would be disastrous for civilians. Meanwhile, Hamas reorganized its ranks Israeli forces are fighting in parts of Gaza that Israel bombed and overran earlier in the war.

United Nations Deputy Spokesman Farhan Haq announced on Monday that another 100,000 Palestinians were displaced from the northern Gaza Strip after recent Israeli evacuation orders there. This means that about a fifth of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced over the past week.

Abeer Atifa, spokeswoman for the United Nations World Food Programme, said that 38 trucks loaded with flour arrived through the western Erez crossing, which is the second access point to northern Gaza. Israel announced the opening of the crossing on Sunday.

But no food has entered the two main crossings in southern Gaza over the past week.

The Rafah border crossing with Egypt has been closed since Israeli forces took control of it a week ago. The fighting in the city of Rafah has made it impossible for relief organizations to reach the nearby Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel, although Israel says it is allowing supply trucks to enter on its side.

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Over the past week, the Israeli army intensified bombing and other operations in Rafah while ordering residents to evacuate parts of the city. Israel insists it is a limited operation focused on eliminating tunnels and other armed infrastructure along the border with Egypt.

Israeli forces are also fighting Palestinian militants in Zaytoun and Jabalia refugee camp in northern Gaza, areas where the army launched major operations earlier in the war.

Atifa said that the World Food Program is distributing food from its remaining stocks in the areas of Khan Yunis in the south and Deir al-Balah in the north, where many of those fleeing Rafah have fled.

Inside Rafah, only two WFP partner organizations were able to distribute food, and no bakeries were operating.

She added, “Most distribution operations were halted due to evacuation and displacement orders and the depletion of food supplies.”

Israeli protesters stopped an aid convoy heading to Gaza at a checkpoint between the occupied West Bank and Israel. Videos circulating online showed them throwing some aid from trucks and destroying it. The police said that a number of people were arrested, without giving details.

Almost all Gazans depend on humanitarian aid to survive. Israeli restrictions and ongoing fighting have hampered humanitarian efforts, causing widespread hunger and starvation “Total famine” In the north, according to the United Nations

The director of Kuwait Hospital, one of the last operating medical centers in Rafah, said that medical staff and residents living near the facility had been informed to evacuate the hospital. Suhaib Al-Hams warned that any evacuation of the hospital itself would have “catastrophic consequences.”

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Meanwhile, international charity Oxfam has warned of a disease outbreak in Gaza following damage to water and sanitation infrastructure worth an estimated $210 million, mass displacement and the start of summer.

“Oxfam staff in Gaza described piles of human waste and rivers of sewage in the streets, between which people had to jump. They also reported people having to drink dirty water and children being bitten by insects that collected around the sewage.

The war began when Hamas and other militants stormed southern Israel October 7Killing about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking 250 others hostage. The militants still hold about 100 prisoners and the remains of more than 30 after releasing most of the rest during a ceasefire last year.

The Israeli attack led to the death of more than 35,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants in its numbers. Israel says it killed more than 13,000 militants without providing evidence.

Israel was distinguished A particularly sad Memorial Day Monday, with a ceremony to commemorate fallen soldiers, including more than 600 killed since Oct. 7, more than half of them in the initial assault. Sirens announced two minutes of silence at 11am

In a ceremony held at Mount Herzl cemetery on the outskirts of Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again pledged to defeat Hamas.

“We have imposed and will pay a heavy price from the enemy for its criminal actions. We will achieve the goals of victory, including the return of all our hostages.”

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Protesters and protesters boycotted some celebrations, reflecting the growing discontent with Israel’s leaders that has drawn thousands of demonstrators to the streets in recent months. Critics blame Netanyahu for the security and intelligence failures that allowed the attack to occur, and for the failure to reach an agreement with Hamas to release the hostages.

Months of internationally-brokered talks on a ceasefire and hostage release apparently reached a dead end last week after Israel launched its incursion into Rafah. Israel has rejected Hamas’s basic demands to end the war and withdraw its forces from the area, saying doing so would allow the militant group to regain control and launch more attacks similar to the October 7 attacks.

The administration of US President Joe Biden, which provided crucial military and diplomatic support for the overall offensive, has expressed growing impatience with Israel, saying it will not provide offensive weapons for a large-scale assault on Rafah.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned against this on Sunday Israel may face ‘ongoing insurgency’ If you do not come up with a realistic plan for post-war governance in Gaza. Israel rejected the American proposals That the Palestinian Authority governs Gaza with the help of Arab countries because these plans depend on progress towards establishing a Palestinian state, which Netanyahu opposes.

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Kraus reported from Jerusalem and Magdy reported from Cairo. Associated Press writers Lee Keith in Cairo, Jack Jeffrey in Jerusalem, and Edith Lederer at the United Nations contributed.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war on https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war