UN: Almost 450,000 people fled Rafah fighting in a week

Almost 450,000 people left the city of Rafah in Gaza in the space of one week as hordes of displaced people try to escape from heavy fighting in the south of the coastal strip, the UN said on Tuesday. 'Empty streets in Rafah as families continue to flee in search of safety,' the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) wrote on X. 'People face constant exhaustion, hunger and fear. Nowhere is safe. An immediate ceasefire is the only hope.' The Israeli army advanced on Gaza's southernmost city from the east just over a week ago and has since also taken control of the Palestinian part of the Rafah border crossing to Egypt. Israel is exerting military pressure on the Palestinian militant organization Hamas to secure the release of hostages taken at the start of the Gaza war last October. It also wants to dismantle any remaining Hamas battalions in Gaza. Israeli attacks and fighting in the Gaza Strip continued on Tuesday, with Palestinian eyewitnesses reporting continuous shelling in the north, south a nd centre of the coastal strip. The military wing of Hamas reported that it had repeatedly attacked Israeli troops at the Rafah crossing and hit a troop carrier near the city. The Hamas-controlled health authority in Gaza reported that 35,173 Palestinians had been killed and more than 79,000 others injured in the Gaza Strip since the war began. The figure, which is impossible to verify independently, does not distinguish between civilians and fighters. On Sunday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated Washington's opposition to a major ground offensive in Rafah. Until last week, more than 1 million people had sought refuge there from fighting in the rest of Gaza. Source: Ghana News Agency