As Israel Steps Up Attacks, 300,000 Gazans Are on the Move

Around 300,000 Palestinians in southern and northern Gaza are being forced to flee once again, the United Nations says, as Israel issued new and expanded evacuation orders on Saturday. But many are unsure where to find secure shelter in a place devastated by war.

The expanded evacuation orders apply to the city of Rafah at Gaza’s southernmost tip, where more than a million Gazans have gathered after fleeing Israeli bombardment elsewhere over the past seven months. They have deepened fears that the Israeli military is set to proceed with an invasion of Rafah, which Israeli leaders have long promised, a prospect that international aid groups and many countries have condemned.

Some 150,000 people have already fled Rafah over the past six days, according to UNRWA, the United Nations agency that aids Palestinians.

“It’s such a difficult situation — the number of people displaced is very high, and none of them know where to go, but they leave and try to get as far away as possible,” said Mohammad al-Masri, a 31-year-old accountant who is sheltering with his family in a tent in Rafah. “Fear, confusion, oppression, anxiety is eating away at people.”

Charles Michel, president of the European Council, criticized the expanded evacuation order on Saturday on social media, saying, “Evacuation orders for civilians trapped in Rafah to unsafe zones are unacceptable.”

Israel seized control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Monday in what it called a “limited operation,” and stepped-up bombardment and fighting have continued in and around the city since then.

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