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Israel defence forces tells civilians in eastern Rafah to move to a humanitarian zone

Statement | London,  7th May 2024, 9:00 GMT

Israel defence forces are asking tens of thousands of Gazans sheltering in eastern Rafah to temporarily evacuate to a so called “humanitarian zone”, ahead of an invasion of the city.

"HI is extremely concerned by the call of Israeli authorities for people in Rafah to evacuate. Transfer or evacuation shall ensure that proper accommodation is provided to receive the population, that the removals are effected in satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and that members of the same family are not separated, says the international humanitarian law. These conditions are not met. Rafah is packed with 1.5 million people who have been displaced multiple times already and live in dire conditions. Civilians are moving amidst destroyed infrastructure – many of them are fragile and can collapse at any time. Many areas around Rafah are contaminated by explosive ordnances that are dangerous for the local population; unexploded ordnance may even contaminate roads leading to the so-called “humanitarian zone”. Additionally, there are no “safe zones” in Gaza: areas that have been designated as "safe zones" in the past, and where people sought shelter, have been targeted during military operations.  As the offensive is unfolding, current border crossing points are already closed, blocking the entry and exit of fuel, goods and personnel, which are essential for the delivery and access of humanitarian aid. In such conditions, the evacuation of Rafah will be a humanitarian disaster. Only an immediate permanent ceasefire can prevent civilian harm."

Camilla Dogliotti, Manager for HI's projects in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

HI activities update:

• HI activities are ongoing in Khan Younis and Middle Area
• HI activities are all suspended in Rafah: staff is assessing the situation.
• Our two warehouses in Rafah have become inaccessible.
• HI access to our goods is still ensured

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