Photos: Palestinians flee Tal as-Sultan area in Rafah amid Israeli assault | Israel-Palestine conflict News

Hundreds of people braved roads in Rafah in southern Gaza on Tuesday as they fled Israel’s expanding ground assault, with increased shelling, tanks in the city centre, and forces positioned on higher ground.

“We are panicking and afraid,” 40-year-old Ihab Zorob of west Rafah told AFP.

“Our children and wives haven’t stopped crying. The bombing last night and throughout the morning has been intense and severe,” he said.

“Seeing people flee has made us more afraid, so we’ve decided to seek shelter in al-Mawasi [on the coast]. Hopefully we’ll find space there.”

Rafah, a city near the Palestinian territory’s southern border with Egypt, has been under Israeli ground assault since early May.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) said that around one million civilians had fled Rafah since the ground attack went ahead despite a chorus of international warnings.

On Tuesday, AFP reporters saw people carry what belongings they could as they fled western Rafah’s Tal as-Sultan, where a strike on Sunday that Israel said targeted Hamas killed 45 people, according to Palestinian officials.

The more fortunate transported piles of mattresses and blankets and dozens of children on the back of trucks, while others carried what they could in rubbish bags, or walked with rolled-up mattresses on their heads.

In the nearby southern city of Khan Younis, AFP reporters saw piles of pillows, mattresses and bags of clothes covering a sandy area where people fleeing Rafah had settled.

Yasser Adwan, a 22-year-old resident of west Rafah, told AFP that “Israeli drones targeted anyone moving or walking in the streets of Rafah”.

He reported several casualties “left lying in the street” because civil defence teams could not retrieve them for fear of being targeted themselves.

Rafah resident Fatima al-Nams, 65, told AFP that “throughout the night, the bombing didn’t stop, with air and artillery fire and vehicles advancing to the west” of the city.

“We will evacuate like the other citizens now,” added Nams, who as a resident of the last area in the Gaza Strip to be attacked by ground troops had not yet been displaced, unlike most people in the territory.

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