Israel is buying 40,000 tents to shelter almost half a million Gazans ahead of a ground attack on what it claims is Hamas’ last bastion in Rafah, a government source said Tuesday.

Israel has invited tenders for the tents, each housing 12 people, or some 480,000 people in total, according to the proposal published on the website of the defense ministry.

“I confirm that a call for tenders has been made, intended for the Gaza Strip,” the government source told AFP, requesting anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Israeli Army estimates that Hamas has four battalions of fighters in Rafah, a city on the border with Egypt where more than 1.5 million people have taken refuge.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said a ground assault on Rafah is planned, despite an international outcry against it.

On Monday, he said “there is a date” for the offensive without saying when the assault would begin.

Other Israeli officials have also claimed that a ground offensive on Rafah is being planned, after the military withdrew troops from the main southern Gaza city of Khan Yunes over the weekend.

AFP correspondents reported that many Gazans have returned to that city only to find their homes in ruins.

The Israel-Hamas war has so far resulted in the deaths of 1,170 Israelis, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Israel’s military rampage in Gaza has led to the killing of 33,360 people, most of them women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.


with AFP