Israeli Tanks Plunge Deeper Into Rafah As 500,000 Palestinians Flee

Tyler Durden's Photo
by Tyler Durden
Tuesday, May 14, 2024 - 04:20 PM

Israeli tanks have been seen plunging deeper into the southern Gaza city of Rafah amid reports that some 500,000 people have fled amid the escalating ground offensive.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have initially focused their operation on the eastern section of the city, having seized a key roadway that essentially cuts Rafah in half. "The tanks advanced this morning west of Salahuddin Road into the Brzail and Jneina neighborhoods. They are in the streets inside the built-up area and there are clashes," one resident told Reuters via a messaging app. Regional media also reports that "Video on social media showed one tank on George Street in Al-Jneina neighborhood."

Via AP

The Guardian also writes Tuesday that "Officials estimate that as many as 500,000 people have fled Rafah since being told to evacuate by the Israel Defense Forces before their first attacks around and in the city a week ago."

A Monday night CNN report indicated that the Biden administration believes that Israel has now amassed enough ground forces on the edge of Rafah to conduct a full-scale invasion of the city in the next days. However, the report says "senior US officials are currently unsure if it has made a final decision to carry out such a move in direct defiance of President Joe Biden, two senior administration officials told CNN."

The White House criticism that not enough has been done to evacuate civilians to safety has persisted. "One of the officials also warned that Israel has not come anywhere close to making adequate preparations – including building infrastructure related to food, hygiene and shelter – ahead of potentially evacuating more than one million Gazans are who currently reside in Rafah," the report continues.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan has clarified in a fresh statement that "The president was clear that he would not supply certain offensive weapons for such an operation were to occur." He underscored in a Monday briefing, "It has not yet occurred."

The words came after a dire prediction by Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the near-future fight if Israel goes 'all in' on Rafah. "Israel’s on the trajectory, potentially, to inherit an insurgency with many armed Hamas left, or, if it leaves, a vacuum filled by chaos, filled by anarchy and probably refilled by Hamas," he said Sunday on NBC’s "Meet the Press." Already the IDF has been forced to return to wage battle in some parts of northern Gaza after Hamas reappeared there, though these regions had already been pacified earlier in the conflict.

But on the whole the US now assesses Hamas capabilities have been "significantly degraded". State Department spokesperson Matt Miller said days ago, "You have seen their ability to launch the kind of attacks that they did on October 7 significantly degraded, if not completely eliminated."

"They couldn’t launch an attack of that scale today," Miller claimed. "Their weapons production factories underground have been eliminated. Most of their battalion leadership in the north and in central Gaza has been eliminated. So Israel has achieved a great number of its military objectives."

The US CENTCOM commander has been on the ground coordinating with IDF leadership, despite President Biden signaling to the public and angry progressives he's getting tough on Israel...

Meanwhile the IDF is still in control of Rafah crossing, and Middle East Eye has cited aid officials who've estimated that southern Gaza has less than a week's worth of food left:

Displaced Palestinians in central and southern Gaza have less than a week's worth of food left, after Israel seized the Rafah border crossing last week.

On 6 May, the Israeli military took "operational control" of the Palestinian side of the crossing between southern Gaza and Egypt, essentially cutting off aid into the coastal enclave.

Since then, just six trucks of food have entered Gaza through the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing with Israel, Juliette Touma, spokesperson for the United Nations' Palestinian refugee agency (Unrwa), told Middle East Eye.

The "very minimum" number of trucks needed is 500 per day, carrying a "combination of fuel, aid supplies and commercial supplies", Touma said. Within the same time frame, 157,000 litres of fuel has come into Gaza. Touma said that 300,000 litres was needed every day.

With so little coming in, food supplies are dwindling and prices soaring. As a "full-blown famine" devastates northern Gaza, sources in central and southern Gaza described a "miserable" situation that could turn into a "real crisis" in a matter of days.

Relentless IDF bombing of Gaza's south has continued, also amid stepped up Hamas operations attacking IDF convoys and positions:

One Palestinian journalist and eyewitness additionally described, "We could be seeing a new famine in the displacement areas. Displaced people are very worried about the lack of supplies. A major crisis, too, is related to the lack of water fit for drinking."

And another eyewitness was cited as listing out that "A few vegetables, such as tomatoes, onions, cucumbers and garlic, and a few legumes, such as lentils, beans and fava beans are all that's left."