Rafah News Update: Israeli Tanks Shell Evacuation Zone

Israeli Army

In a significant escalation, Israeli tanks shelled an evacuation zone west of Rafah, killing at least 21 people on Tuesday, according to Gaza health authorities. This marks the first advance of Israeli forces into the center of southern Gaza following a night of intense bombardment.

33 Shelling in Al-Mawasi Evacuation Zone

Two days after a controversial airstrike on another camp provoked global outrage, Gaza emergency services confirmed that four tank shells struck a cluster of tents in Al-Mawasi, a coastal area designated by Israel as a safe zone for Rafah’s civilians.

Civilian Casualties and Israeli Military Response

Medical officials in the Hamas-controlled Palestinian enclave reported that at least 12 of the deceased were women.

An Israeli military spokesperson stated, “As of this time, we are not aware of this incident.”

Tanks Enter Central Rafah

Eyewitnesses in central Rafah observed tanks and armored vehicles near the Al-Awda mosque, a significant city landmark.

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The Israeli military acknowledged ongoing operations in the Rafah area but did not comment on advances into the city center.

Global Outrage Over Rafah Offensive

International disquiet over Israel’s three-week-old Rafah offensive escalated after a Sunday attack ignited a blaze in a tent camp, killing at least 45 people.

Israel claimed the target was two senior Hamas operatives and that civilian casualties were unintended.

International Leaders React

Global leaders expressed horror over the fire in Rafah’s designated “humanitarian zone,” urging adherence to a recent World Court order to cease Israel’s assault.

The Israeli military later announced an investigation into the possibility that stored munitions near the targeted compound on Sunday might have caused the blaze.

Designation of Humanitarian Zones

Tuesday’s shelling in Al-Mawasi occurred in an expanded humanitarian zone designated by Israel, where it had urged Rafah’s civilians to evacuate since the beginning of the incursion in early May.

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Diplomatic Developments

In a significant diplomatic move, Spain, Ireland, and Norway officially recognized a Palestinian state on Tuesday, further isolating Israel internationally amid the ongoing conflict.

The three countries hope their recognition will expedite efforts to secure a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas, now in its eighth month, which has devastated much of the densely populated territory.

Continuous Bombardment in Tel Al-Sultan

Residents reported continuous bombardment in Rafah’s Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood, the site of Sunday’s deadly strike. “Tank shells are falling everywhere in Tel Al-Sultan. Many families have fled their houses in western Rafah under fire throughout the night,” one resident told Reuters via a chat app.

Mass Displacement and Humanitarian Crisis

The U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) reported that around one million people have fled the Israeli offensive in Rafah since early May. Reuters footage showed families once again on the move, carrying their belongings through the shattered streets of Rafah.

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“There are a lot of attacks, smoke, and dust. It is death from God… The (Israelis) are hitting everywhere. We’re tired,” said Moayad Fusaifas, pushing belongings on two bicycles.

Ceasefire Efforts Hampered

Efforts to revive ceasefire talks and the release of hostages held by Hamas, led by Egypt with Qatar and the U.S., have been hindered by the ongoing Israeli assault on Rafah, reported Cairo’s state-affiliated Al-Qahera News TV channel.

Israeli Incursion into Rafah

Since Israel’s incursion began with the seizure of the Rafah border crossing three weeks ago, tanks have been probing the outskirts and entering eastern districts, but this marks their first significant push into the city center.