Israel declares war on Rafah, the last safe zone in Gaza
Photo: WAFA News Agency
Despite repeated warnings from scores of world leaders, international institutions, and aid agencies, Israel has significantly intensified its bombardment in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, where currently more than 1.4 million displaced Palestinians from other parts of Gaza are taking refuge and are effectively trapped with nowhere else to go.
Israel had in recent days issued evacuation warnings to the over one million Palestinians taking refuge in and around the city, threatening a ground invasion. Many of those in Rafah have already been displaced more than once, are facing infectious disease, dealing with injuries, and barely have sufficient food and supplies to survive, making another evacuation next to impossible.
Countries such as Netherlands, France, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, along with the European Union have released statements expressing concern over Israel’s threat to carry out a ground invasion of Rafah and the feared civilian death toll and destruction that it could bring. They have strongly urged Israel not to go ahead with its planned invasion of the city.
Additionally, Egypt has warned that if Israel goes ahead with the attack on Rafah and tries to forcibly transfer the displaced Palestinians in Gaza to Egyptian territory, then all peace and security agreements, including the historic Camp David Accords of 1978, as well as the border security arrangement at the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza could be terminated.
The Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, which is currently engaged in ceasefire negotiations with Israel mediated by Egypt and Qatar, among others, has said that any invasion of Rafah would immediately “torpedo” any ongoing negotiation efforts.
Several aid groups and UN agencies have vehemently condemned Israel’s threat to invade Rafah and have reiterated the demand for an immediate, unconditional ceasefire to stop the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza from getting any worse.
The World Health Organization’s chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, termed reports regarding the invasion “extremely worrying”, and on X noted that “proceeding with the plans could have gravely devastating consequences for the 1.4 million people who have nowhere else left to go, and who have almost no place left to seek health care.”
Doctors Without Borders (MSF), also in a statement stressed that “Israel’s declared ground offensive on Rafah would be catastrophic and must not proceed. As aerial bombardment of the area continues, more than a million people, many living in tents and makeshift shelters, now face a dramatic escalation in this ongoing massacre. Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and repeated forced displacements have pushed people to Rafah, where they are trapped in a tiny patch of land and have no options.”
Meanwhile, as Israel’s genocidal war of genocide enters the 129th day, hundreds have reportedly been killed and injured in the ongoing bombardment and ground attacks across the Gaza strip.
At least 67 Palestinians are reported to have been killed and close to 300 injured in Israeli airstrikes today in Rafah, along with at least 15 others in Deir al-Bala in central Gaza. Furthermore, Israeli army snipers also shot and killed seven people inside the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis.
Over the weekend, Israel’s aerial and ground assaults across Gaza, killed around 200 and injured hundreds. The total death toll in Gaza since October 7 has increased to at least 28,340 Palestinians, while an estimated 67,984 have been injured.
Israeli media reported that in the early morning of February 12, two Israeli hostages were recovered by Israeli forces in Rafah, marking the first time hostages had been taken in a military operation. The feat has been widely celebrated by mainstream media across the world, with many peace advocates worrying that it could be used as a pretext to increase military operations in Rafah, at the cost of thousands of Palestinian lives.
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