Gazans are fleeing Rafah as Israel ramps up its war with Hamas — and the U.S. and others are pushing for an endgame.


Tel Aviv – About 360,000 people have been displaced from Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip, as of Monday, a number that has tripled in just a few days, according to the United Nations. The Israel Defense Forces sparked the ongoing unrest late last week. Evacuation orders Planes fell from the sky via text messages and to people in the eastern half of the city.

Since then, IDF forces have pushed into the southern part of Palestinian territory in what the military says are limited and targeted attacks. Targeting Hamas Militants and infrastructure.

The US has repeatedly warned Israel not to launch a major military ground operation in Rafah due to the fear of mass casualties. The White House, along with other countries, has increased pressure on the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to come up with a plan to deal with the humanitarian crisis caused by the war, and the so-called “day after” To determine who or Hamas will be replaced as the governing body of Gaza.

Pressure is mounting on Netanyahu.

The Biden administration warned again over the weekend that Israel needs an exit plan for the war, and that if Hamas can be defeated, without a viable alternative to govern Gaza, the group will Long may be designated as a terrorist organization by both Israel and the United States. Return phase


Blanken says the US will not support Rafah incursions without a “credible plan” to protect civilians.

“You're going to have a vacuum, and a vacuum that will likely be filled by chaos, anarchy, and ultimately by Hamas.” Blankenship told CBS' “Face the Nation” Moderator Margaret Brennan on Sunday. He stressed that the US would not support an Israeli military operation in Rafah “without a credible plan to protect civilians”.

Meanwhile, very public rifts between Israel's government and its military are now showing. Senior military officials have begun to openly demand that Netanyahu decide what to do to replace Hamas in running Gaza – saying that Israeli forces could be stuck there if he doesn't decide.

The families of many Israeli soldiers have similar concerns. Over the weekend, a letter signed by 600 family members of current IDF soldiers called on Netanyahu's government to abandon the Rafah ground offensive, warning that it would be “nothing short of a death trap.” could.”

The families warned in the letter that “any reasonable person understands that while they have been announcing and warning about entering Rafah for months, there are those who are preparing the ground and harming the forces there.” Working for”.

The Biden administration has made clear it will not provide weapons for a full-scale military operation in Rafah, but Netanyahu has refused to back down from his pledge to carry out the offensive, saying Hamas has several battalions. hid in the city.

In a late-night phone call, Israeli Defense Minister Yves Gallant gave U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blanken an update on the battle, according to a statement from Gallant's office, which included “the Rafah area against the remaining battalions of Hamas.” “Correct operation” is also included.

The people of Gaza were forced to flee again and again.

In the southeast corner of Rafah, scattered neighborhoods were eerily quiet on Monday morning – abandoned after Israel warned of an advance.

Millions of people who fled to the city on previous Israeli orders have fled once again, this time to the coastal area of ​​al-Mawasi, west of Gaza, which Israel has turned into a sprawling camp for the displaced.

Palestinians carry their belongings as they prepare to flee Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 13, 2024 amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

AFP via Getty


It may be out of the line of fire for now, but it's far from a safe haven as thousands of families brave the elements in tents pitched along a barren stretch of coastline.

Homeless mother who lost 6 of 7 children “still in shock”

In the north, in a makeshift camp in Deir al-Bala, Jamila Abu Jabara told CBS News that she lost her entire family in an overnight Israeli airstrike exactly seven months ago. Her husband and six of her seven children were killed. Neighbors were the only ones able to pull her and her 10-year-old daughter Dima from the rubble of their home.

“My 8-year-old son's body is still under the rubble,” he said. “I'm waiting for a truce to get him out.”

Beyond that, the now-single mom said she doesn't have any plans for the future, “because I'm still in shock.”

“As a mother, I need to be strong for my daughter Dima, so that I can take care of her and build her future. She is constantly with me, and I don't like her to be without me. Even if she sleeps.”

Dima Abu Jabara, 10, sits next to her mother, Jamila (center), as she speaks with CBS News on May 12, 2024, at a makeshift camp for displaced Palestinians in Deir al-Balah, in the central Gaza Strip.

CBS News


“I wish this war would end,” his daughter Dima told CBS News.

Many Israelis wish the same. On Sunday, as Israel marked its Memorial Day, the country mourned its fallen soldiers and the nearly 1,200 victims of the October 7 terror attack by Hamas, which sparked the current war.

But as dozens of families pressured Netanyahu to agree to a deal to repatriate about 100 Israelis believed to be held hostage by Hamas or other groups in Gaza, a memorial The Prime Minister's remarks at the event were ambiguous.

“We will continue until victory,” he vowed to complete his stated mission of “destroying Hamas.”

At the camp in Deir al-Balah, Abu Jabara told CBS News that she wished she could protect her six children from Israeli attacks.

“I wish I were dead and they were alive,” she said, adding an appeal to Americans on Mother's Day:

“My message to any mother: Look at our lives and see our pain. I am one of the countless mothers who have lost.”

CBS News' Tucker Reales contributed to this report.

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