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Tent Compound Rises in Southern Gaza as Israel Prepares for Rafah Offensive
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By Associated Press
Published 1 month ago on
April 23, 2024

Tent compound rises in southern Gaza; US Senate to pass $26 billion aid package as crisis deepens in the region. (AP/Abdel Kareem Hana)

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Satellite photos analyzed by The Associated Press appear to show a new compound of tents being built near Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip as the Israeli military signals that it plans an offensive on the city of Rafah.

Khan Younis has been targeted by repeated Israeli military operations over recent weeks. Israel has said it plans to evacuate civilians from Rafah during an anticipated offensive on the southern city, where hundreds of thousands of people have taken refuge during the war, now in its seventh month.

The Struggle for Shelter

A Palestinian health official later said the tent camp was being set up to house displaced people who are currently sheltering in a hospital and is not related to any impending military operation. Its presence underscores the struggle to find shelter in Gaza, where some 80% of people have fled their homes. More than half of the territory’s population of 2.3 million have sought refuge in Rafah.

On Monday, a failed rocket strike was launched at a base housing U.S.-led coalition forces at Rumalyn, Syria, marking the first time since Feb. 4 that Iranian-backed militias have attacked a U.S. facility in Iraq or Syria, a U.S. defense official said. No personnel were injured in the attack, and no group has claimed responsibility.

The conflict has led to regional unrest, pitting Israel and the U.S. against Iran and allied militant groups across the Middle East. Israel and Iran traded fire directly this month, raising fears of all-out regional war.

The Israel-Hamas war was sparked by the unprecedented Oct. 7 raid into southern Israel in which the militants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted around 250 hostages. Israel says the militants are still holding around 100 hostages and the remains of more than 30 others.

The war in Gaza has killed more than 34,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, around two-thirds of them children and women. It has devastated Gaza’s two largest cities and left a swath of destruction. Around 80% of the territory’s population has fled to other parts of the besieged coastal enclave.

The U.S. Senate could pass a $26 billion aid package as soon as Tuesday that includes around $9 billion in humanitarian assistance for Gaza, which experts say is on the brink of famine, as well as billions for Israel. President Joe Biden has promised to sign it immediately.

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