Satellite photos show Palestinians leaving Rafah tent camps after IDF evacuation orders

Newly-released satellite photos reviewed by The Associated Press show a large number of Palestinians departing from Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah earlier this month, ahead of a looming Israel Defense Forces ground invasion there.

The photos taken three days apart — first on May 5 and then on May 8 — show the change on the ground after Israel issued its first evacuation order for the city on May 6.

They show that crowded tent camps in the central and northwest regions of the city grew sparse within days of the order.

This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows a camp before its mass evacuation in Rafah, Gaza, May 5, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)
This satellite photo taken by Planet Labs PBC shows an evacuated camp in Rafah, Gaza, May 8, 2024. (Planet Labs PBC via AP)

In the three days between the photos, at least half of the hundreds of tents cramming the area disappeared, likely from Palestinians packing up and departing.

Before the evacuation orders, some 1.3 million Palestinians — many already displaced from other parts of Gaza — had taken shelter in Rafah, according to the UN.

The IDF said earlier today that 900,000 Palestinians had left Rafah.

Israel has so far classified its operations in the city as limited in scope, a claim the US has echoed.

The war in Gaza erupted after Hamas’s October 7 massacre, which saw some 3,000 terrorists burst across the border into Israel by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing 252 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid acts of brutality and sexual assault.

Most Popular