Israel Begins Rafah Evacuation, Operations to Start “Soon”

Update (0807 EST): UNRWA Commissioner-General Lazzarini has denied Prime Minister Netanyahu’s claim that evacuations have begun. He has told press that the operation will begin if negotiations are not fruitful this week. Prime Minister Netanyahu also told press that the chance of reaching an agreement is “extremely low.”

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has announced that the evacuation of civilians from Rafah has begun and an IDF operation in the city is expected to begin “soon.” He also told press that the IDF will enter Rafah “with or without a deal”, a subtle nod to negotiations in Cairo which are ongoing with Hamas leadership.

According to the UNRWA, about 1.5 million IDPs are currently residing in Rafah. It is unclear how fast Israel can clear priority zones of enough civilians to begin operations in the last bastion of Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip. There are said to be five battalions totaling about 7,000 militants.

This is developing.