Home News Satellite images show widespread destruction as Israel advances towards central Rafah

Satellite images show widespread destruction as Israel advances towards central Rafah

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Israeli troops appeared to be closing in on the center of Rafah, satellite images showed widespread damage to military vehicles and residential areas in the Gaza Strip more than two and a half miles from the Israeli border, with Palestinians fleeing Israel. Even outside the areas the Israeli military said it was evacuating.

Israeli forces remain on the eastern side of the southern Gaza city, according to images captured by commercial satellite company Planet Labs on Wednesday. But in recent days, they have continued to move toward central Rafah, passing the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and the Saladin Highway, Gaza’s main artery.

The neighborhood is littered with collapsed buildings and debris and had seen only limited damage before Israel began its incursion last week.

While it’s impossible to know exactly what caused the destruction in various areas of Rafah, much of what was seen is consistent with the consequences of Israeli bombing and ground operations elsewhere in Gaza since the war began last October.

Israel calls Rafah the last stronghold of Hamas and a key gateway for smuggling weapons from Egypt into Gaza. It expressed its determination to ensure that the militants who attacked Israel on October 7 no longer pose a threat.

But Rafah is also a refuge for more than a million Palestinians fleeing Israeli bombardment in other parts of Gaza. The United Nations says hundreds of thousands of people have fled Rafah in recent days, and images show large numbers of people leaving the center of Rafah, even in areas outside the Israeli military’s evacuation order for the city.

The Rafah area, which a week ago was crowded with tents and vehicles, was deserted on Wednesday.

Christopher Cottle Contributed reporting.

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