In preparation for the attack on Rafah.. Israel plans to place the Palestinians on “humanitarian islands”

The Israeli army said on Wednesday that it intends to direct a large portion of the 1.4 million displaced Palestinians living in the town of Rafah in the far south of the Gaza Strip towards “humanitarian islands” in the center of the Strip before its expected attack in the region.

The fate of citizens in Rafah has become a major concern for Israel’s allies – including the United States – and humanitarian organizations, which see an attack on the area crowded with displaced people as being a disaster.

Rafah is also the main entry point for much-needed aid in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the attack on Rafah is crucial to achieving Israel’s declared goal of destroying Hamas in the wake of the attack launched by the movement on October 7, which led to the death of about 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and about 250 hostages were taken and transferred. To Gaza, according to Israeli authorities.

The Israeli invasion of Gaza killed more than 31,000 people, according to Gaza health officials, left much of the Strip in ruins and displaced about 80 percent of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Daniel Hagari, said the transfer of those in Rafah to the designated areas, which he said would be done in coordination with international actors, was a key part of the IDF’s preparations for the expected invasion of Rafah, where Israel says Hamas maintains four battalions that it wants to destroy.

Rafah’s size has swelled in recent months as Palestinians in Gaza have fled fighting in almost every corner of the enclave. Tents covered the town.

“We need to make sure that the 1.4 million people, or at least a significant number of the 1.4 million, will move… where? to the humanitarian islands that we will create with the international community,” Hagari said.

Hagari stressed that these islands will provide temporary housing, food, water and other necessities for the evacuated Palestinians.

He did not mention when Rafah would be evacuated nor when the attack on Rafah would begin, saying that Israel wants the timing to be appropriate from an operational standpoint and for it to be coordinated with its neighbor Egypt, which said it does not want displaced Palestinians to flow across its borders.

At the beginning of the war, Israel directed evacuees to a patch of undeveloped land along Gaza’s Mediterranean coast that it designated as a safe zone.

However, aid groups said there were no real plans to receive large numbers of displaced people there. Israeli raids also targeted the area.

The Gaza Ministry of Health says that the Israeli bombing killed more than 31,270 Palestinians in Gaza and forced most of the Strip’s 2.3 million residents to leave their homes. The ministry does not differentiate between civilians and fighters in its statistics, but it says that women and children constitute two-thirds of the dead.

Israel blames the civilian death toll on Hamas because the militants are fighting in dense residential areas. The army said it killed 13,000 Hamas fighters without providing evidence.

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