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Day 222: Israel pushes further into Rafah, tanks reach residential areas as 450,000 Gazans evacuate

IDF re-enters areas in northern and central Gaza Strip to prevent Hamas buildup

Israeli soldiers at a staging area near the Israeli-Gaza Border, southern Israel, May 9, 2024 (Photo: Flash90)

Israeli tanks penetrated deeper into Rafah on Tuesday, with reports stating IDF tanks were seen in residential areas in three neighborhoods. 

On Tuesday evening, Israeli military spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Daniel Hagari said the IDF currently has three divisions maneuvering in the Gaza Strip: Jabaliya in the northern Strip, Zeitoun in the central Strip, and Rafah in the south. 

Hagari reported that more than 100 terrorists have been eliminated in Rafah since Israeli forces entered last week. 

In his briefing, Hagari also mentioned that IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi had visited Rafah earlier on Tuesday when he received news that evidence of hostages had been found there.

“We are determined to do whatever it takes to create the conditions for them to return to us soon,” Hagari said. 

During the fighting on Israel's Independence Day, Hagari said that about 100 terrorists had been killed throughout the Gaza Strip. According to him, IDF troops entered areas in Jabaliya where the soldiers “had not entered in the past.” 

The IDF returned to Jabaliya following reports of an increased Hamas presence in the city. More than 80 Hamas gunmen have been killed in fighting since the IDF returned to the city. 

In central Gaza, the IDF struck a Hamas command post used by Hamas' Nukhba Force located in a UNRWA school in Nuseirat. Ten Hamas terrorists were killed in the strike.

The IDF also revealed evidence of terrorists inside UN vehicles and UNRWA’s central logistics compound. 

The Office of Coordination of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) stated that they “conveyed the findings to senior officials in the international community and called on the UN to conduct an urgent investigation into the matter.”

Thirteen Israeli soldiers were wounded during fighting in Gaza on Tuesday, with four of them being listed in serious condition. The IDF also reported its first casualty from the operation in Rafah, Sergeant Ira Yair Gispan, 19, from Petah Tikva. Three additional soldiers were injured in the incident.

UNRWA claimed that around 450,000 Palestinians have already evacuated Rafah since May 6. More than a week ago, Israel began issuing instructions to civilians to leave the Rafah and move to humanitarian zones.

The number of evacuees has risen steadily since IDF troops entered Rafah last week.

Palestinians leave their homes in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, May 8, 2024. (Photo: Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

Palestinian reports indicated heavy traffic on westbound roads leading to the humanitarian zone.

According to a CNN report, the Biden administration believes Israel has enough troops gathered near Rafah to begin a full-scale incursion. 

The United States is unsure whether the coalition government led by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already decided to begin the operation, following recent threats by Biden to withhold the delivery of certain weapons if Israel undertakes a large-scale operation in Rafah.

U.S. officials recently expressed doubts that an operation in Rafah would lead to the defeat of Hamas. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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