Tuesday Briefing: Israel Orders Rafah Evacuations

Palestinians evacuating after the Israeli military warned people to leave eastern Rafah.Credit…Doaa Al Baz/Reuters

Israel ordered a partial evacuation of Rafah

Israeli warplanes pounded targets in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza, yesterday, as the military told about 110,000 people there to evacuate. Hours later, the political leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, said that the group had accepted a cease-fire proposal from Qatar and Egypt.

The full details of the proposal were unclear, but the conflict remains unresolved. Comments by Hamas and Israeli officials made it clear that Haniyeh was not referring to the plan that Israel had recently put forward.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said the proposal did not meet Israel’s demands. Israel’s war cabinet had also decided unanimously to “continue with its action in Rafah in order to exert military pressure on Hamas,” Netanyahu’s office said in a statement.

Thousands of people were leaving Rafah yesterday, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which said that there had been “escalating Israeli airstrikes” in areas east of the city. A sense of panic coursed through the city, as prices for food and fuel skyrocketed.

Context: Israel seems set to invade Rafah, despite pressure from the country’s closest allies, including the U.S., arguing that doing so would take a heavy toll on civilians. An Israeli military spokesman would not say when troops might enter the city, but described the evacuation as part of Israel’s plans to dismantle Hamas and to free hostages taken on Oct. 7.

U.S. campus protests: Columbia University canceled its main commencement ceremony after weeks of student protests over the war.

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