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Israel Expands Evacuation Order In Rafah

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Israel announced a wider evacuation order in Rafah, a southern city in Gaza, on Saturday ahead of its expected ground assault to finish off Hamas’ major stronghold.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) posted maps on X of areas that were considered a “combat zone”, and ordered civilians in additional areas in eastern Rafah “to temporarily evacuate to the expanded Humanitarian Area in Al-Mawasi.” The move comes just days after President Joe Biden threatened to withhold offensive aid to Israel if it went into the heavily-populated areas of Rafah.

The IDF also ordered civilians in Jabalia to shelter in western Gaza City “following attempts by Hamas to reassemble its terrorist infrastructure and operatives” in the area. Such orders were communicated via “flyers, SMS messages, phone calls and media broadcasts in Arabic,” according to the IDF.

“This is being done in accordance with international law to reduce harm to the civilian population and move civilians away from the combat zone,” the IDF wrote.

IDF spokesperson Avichay Adraee added in a statement on X that the military “will work with great force against the terrorist organizations in the region in which you are located, and therefore everyone who is in those areas exposes themselves and their families to danger.”

The Israeli military began evacuation operations in Rafah on Monday after it failed to reach a ceasefire deal with Hamas on Sunday, according to Reuters. Israel believes entering Rafah is essential to its mission of eliminating Hamas following the Oct. 7 terrorist attack that killed roughly 1,200 individuals, as the group’s remaining four battalions are stationed throughout the region.

Biden warned during an interview with CNN on Wednesday evening that he won’t be “supplying the weapons that have been used historically to deal with Rafah, to deal with the cities.” The president’s comments were met with criticism on the right for withholding such aid to an ally, including from House Republican Speaker Mike Johnson.

“My reaction, honestly, was, ‘Wow, that is a complete turn from what I have been told, even in, you know, recent hours,’” Johnson told Politico. “I mean, 24 hours ago, it was confirmed to me by top administration officials that the policy’s very different than what he stated there. So I hope that’s a senior moment.”

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