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Israel orders further evacuations in Rafah and Jabalia

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The Israel Defense Forces told people in parts of Rafah and in the city of Jabalia to leave “immediately” Saturday morning, as Israel prepares to expand its military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The Israeli army plans to “work with great force” against the Hamas militant group, Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson Avichai Adraee said in a post on X, calling the areas to be evacuated a “dangerous combat zone.”

The evacuation order covers the southeastern part of Rafah along the Israeli border and the Egyptian border — including the Rafah crossing, which the Israeli military blocked on Tuesday.

According to the IDF statement, Hamas has been “trying to rebuild its capabilities in the region.”

People were told to go to a humanitarian zone in Al-Mawasi in the western part of the Gaza Strip, where more than 400,000 people have sought refuge, according to the latest situation report from the U.N.’s Palestinian humanitarian agency UNRWA.

But the humanitarian camp cannot house any more people, the agency said, as about 80,000 people have already fled Rafah and moved to the area since the Israeli army issued its first evacuation order on Monday.

The evacuation orders come as a much-anticipated U.S. State Department report on the Israel-Hamas conflict stopped short of declaring that Israel has violated international law in its war with the militant group.

“It is reasonable to assess” that Israel used U.S.-provided weapons in ways that are “inconsistent” with international law, the report states. But Israel didn’t give Washington enough evidence to adjudicate whether those arms were used to violate human rights in Gaza, the West Bank or East Jerusalem, according to the document.

On Friday, the U.N. General Assembly voted to grant new “rights and privileges” to Palestine and called on the Security Council to reconsider Palestine’s request to become the 194th member of the U.N. The 193-member world body approved the resolution by a vote of 143-9 with 25 abstentions. The United States voted against the resolution, along with Israel, Argentina, Czechia, Hungary, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau and Papua New Guinea.

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