Satellite images revealed on Saturday the growing number of Palestinians sheltering in the southern Gaza border town of Rafah since the past October 7 attack.
Two photos, taken by the US company Planet Labs on Jan. 14 and Feb. 4, reveal that lands covered with trees have turned into a city of tents hosting the internally displaced Palestinians.
Roughly 80% of Gaza’s people have been displaced, and the territory has plunged into a humanitarian crisis with shortages of food and medical services.
Rafah is normally home to 280,000 people. But its population has swelled to over 1.4 million as Palestinians flee fighting, destruction and hunger elsewhere in the territory, according to the UN.
More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, many after following Israeli evacuation orders that now cover two-thirds of the territory.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people there ahead of a ground invasion.
Netanyahu did not provide details or a timeline, but the announcement set off panic and warnings from diplomats, AP said.
On Sunday, the bodies of 58 Palestinians killed in Israeli airstrikes arrived to Abu Youssef Al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah, according to the Palestinian Shehab News agency.
In a related development, the World Health Organization (WHO) said it was denied a mission Saturday to the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis, which has been besieged and coming under Israeli fire for three weeks.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO's director-general, said he was “deeply concerned about the safety of patients and health personnel due to the intensifying hostilities in the vicinity of the hospital.”