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Day 228: Military analyst says IDF close to taking over Rafah

Israeli forces advance in Rafah as most civilians flee city

Israeli forces operate in Gaza (Photo: IDF)

The IDF continues its military activities in Rafah as sources reported the evacuation of almost one million people in Gaza since Israel first instructed civilians to leave the city on May 6, ahead of increased operations. 

While most civilians have evacuated to the expanded humanitarian zone established by Israel, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) reported that the evacuation has led to a 36% increase in the population of Khan Younis. 

Satellite images have shown a significant buildup of tents in the al-Mawasi humanitarian zone, some of them purchased by Israel. 

In Rafah, located in southern Gaza on the border with Egypt, soldiers of the 401st Brigade combat team, under the 162nd Division, continued operations. The units secured the Rafah crossing and reportedly now control most of the Philadelphi Corridor. IDF soldiers conducted targeted raids on terrorist infrastructure and buildings from which Hamas terrorists fired at IDF forces. 

During the military activities, the IDF eliminated dozens of terrorists who approached them. 

Soldiers of the 932nd Battalion searched a building that contained weapons, protective equipment, explosives, anti-tank missiles and tools for breaching fences.

Battalion soldiers located a tunnel shaft containing a weapons warehouse with short-range anti-tank missiles, grenades, weapons, and explosives during searches in the area. The tunnel shaft and the weapons were destroyed. 

In an interview with Israel's Radio 103FM, military analyst Avi Ashkenazi said the IDF is close to taking over the city. 

“Actually, quietly, under the radar of the world, the IDF is advancing at a fairly rapid pace to take over Rafah,” Ashkenazi said. “The IDF controls over 60% of the Philadelphi Route.” 

He also said that most of the civilians evacuated before the IDF directly instructed them to leave. 

The Rafah Brigade is the last fully operational Hamas brigade in the Gaza Strip and, until now, has only been targeted by airstrikes. The brigade most likely includes battalions that fled from other parts of the Gaza Strip earlier in the war. 

The Israeli military's expanded operations in Rafah aim to diminish the Rafah Brigade's capacity to actively engage the IDF as it carries out more limited, targeted maneuvers.

The IDF has also been targeting symbols of Hamas' rule and infrastructure to demonstrate the group’s loss of power.

Troops also continue operating in Central Gaza. During an activity, the soldiers spotted a terrorist cell approaching them. The troops called in an airstrike which eliminated the terrorists. 

Over the past day, Israeli Air Force (IAF) aircraft struck approximately 70 terror targets throughout Gaza, including military compounds, weapon storage sites and warehouses, missile launchers, observation posts, terrorist cells, and additional infrastructure. 

IDF troops also continued operational activities in the area of Jabaliya, in the northern Gaza Strip, where the troops located the bodies of four murdered hostages in the past week.

The soldiers of the 460th Armored Brigade raided terrorist infrastructure in Jabaliya's agricultural areas, during which vests, an FN MAG machine gun, hand grenades, explosives, and intelligence materials were discovered.

Acting on intelligence, the troops reached a mosque where they found missiles and rocket launchers, which were subsequently destroyed.

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

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