Fierce fighting rocks Gaza after US warning of anarchy, insurgency

Published Date: 14-May-2024 | 11:46 AM
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Israel battled Hamas in Gaza on Monday, including in far-southern Rafah, despite US warnings against a full-scale invasion of the crowded city and of the threat from post-war anarchy or insurgency.

Clashes also raged in northern and central Gaza as Israel marked a sombre Memorial Day, followed by Independence Day from Monday night, more than seven months into the war sparked by Hamas's October 7 attack on Israel. Israelis marked a moment's silence and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed that "our war of independence is not over yet. It continues even today... We are determined to win this struggle." AFP correspondents in Gaza reported helicopter strikes and heavy artillery shelling in the east of Rafah, as well as battles in northern Gaza's Jabalia refugee camp and Gaza City's Zeitun neighbourhood. Israel last week defied a chorus of warnings -- including from top ally Washington which paused a shipment of bombs -- and sent tanks and troops into the east of Rafah to pursue militants. The city on the Egyptian border had been sheltering 1.4 million Palestinians, according to the United Nations, but Israel's military operation sparked an exodus of nearly 360,000 people from Rafah so far, said the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA).

Warning of Hamas resurgence

The agency warned that "no place is safe" in the territory, much of which has been reduced to a grey landscape of rubble. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday that Washington had not seen any credible Israeli plan to protect civilians in Rafah, and that "we also haven't seen a plan for what happens the day after this war in Gaza ends". "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 told NBC. Fighting has raged in northern Gaza where -- months after Israel declared Hamas's command structure had been dismantled -- an Israeli army spokesman said there were "attempts by Hamas to rebuild its military capabilities".

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said late on Monday that since the evacuation orders were issued on Saturday for northern Gaza, around 100,000 people have been displaced from there. "The army threw leaflets and sent a message on mobile phones warning everyone to leave Jabalia" refugee camp, said one displaced Palestinian, Umm Adi Nassar, after arriving in nearby Gaza City.

 

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