update deskIsrael at War

IDF to establish safe zone for Rafah evacuees in central Gaza

It will be located south of Wadi Gaza and north of the central camps—Nuseirat and Bureij, near the IDF's Netzarim Corridor dividing Gaza.

Displaced residents of Gaza pitch tents in Rafah, in the southern part of the Strip near the Sinai border, March 8, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.
Displaced residents of Gaza pitch tents in Rafah, in the southern part of the Strip near the Sinai border, March 8, 2024. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90.

The Israel Defense Forces will establish a humanitarian safe zone in the central Gaza Strip as part of preparations for the evacuation of noncombatants from the southernmost city of Rafah.

It will be located south of Wadi Gaza and north of the central camps—Nuseirat and Bureij, near the east-west Netzarim Corridor the IDF recently created to split the Strip into two parts, Army Radio reported on Wednesday.

Additionally, the current shelter area near the southern coastal town of Al-Mawasi will be expanded eastward towards Khan Yunis.

(Before Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in 2005, Al-Mawasi was a Bedouin enclave within the Katif Bloc of Israeli communities.)

The evacuation preparations come ahead of an expected IDF offensive in Rafah, Hamas’s last terror bastion where four of its last six battalions are entrenched, consisting of several thousand fighters. Jerusalem says that conquering the city on the Egyptian border is essential to winning the war.

However, there is intense international opposition to a full-scale offensive, including from the United States, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in Riyadh on Monday that “we have not yet seen a plan that gives us confidence that civilians can be effectively protected.”

The American diplomat was in Israel on Wednesday to discuss the Rafah operation concerns and push for a hostage release deal, saying that Hamas is solely responsible for the lack of an agreement.

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