A satellite photo of Israel’s new front in Gaza

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New satellite images taken after Israeli forces entered Rafah show widespread damage to the southern Gaza city – including large areas of flattened buildings – and clusters of Israeli armored vehicles.

Source: satellite images from Planet Labs

Images captured Tuesday morning by Planet Labs, a commercial satellite company, show damaged buildings more than two miles deep in the area near the Rafah border crossing with Egypt. Israel seized this crossing this week.

Photos and videos released by the Israeli army in the same area show tanks near the border crossing at the same time on Tuesday morning.

While it is not possible to know exactly what caused the damage seen in the satellite images, much of what is seen corresponds to the aftermath of clearing operations and other Israeli ground operations elsewhere in the Gaza Strip.

Source: satellite images from Planet Labs

Israel says Rafah is Hamas’s last stronghold and a crucial gateway for arms shipments smuggled into Gaza from Egypt. It says it is determined to ensure that the militants behind the October 7 attacks on Israel no longer pose a threat.

But Rafah has also become a haven for more than a million Palestinians who fled Israeli bombardment in other parts of Gaza, and there are widespread concerns that a full-scale invasion could prove catastrophic.

In addition, Rafah is also home to one of the two main entry points for the vast majority of aid entering Gaza during the war. Since the start of the last Israeli military operation no fuel or help survived, said Scott Anderson, the deputy director of UNRWA, the main U.N. aid agency in Gaza.

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Source: Israeli military announcements

On Monday, the Israeli army ordered about 110,000 people to evacuate parts of Rafah. Thousands left the city, the Palestinian Red Crescent said, reporting “escalating Israeli airstrikes” in areas east of Rafah.

Local health authorities warned of a “significant increase” in the death toll due to the intense Israeli bombardment of Gaza, especially in Rafah. The bodies of 58 people killed in Israeli attacks have arrived at Abu Yousef al-Najjar Hospital in Rafah since Sunday, Dr. Marwan al-Hams, the hospital’s director, on Tuesday.

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