Israel’s looming attacks on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip risk causing a further humanitarian disaster for the Palestinian population that has been seeking safe refuge there. Almost half of Gaza 2.3 million people, have fled to this border city and are awaiting an imminent escalation from the Israeli military. Many are sleeping in makeshift tents in schools, hospital courtyards, on the streets, and abandoned buildings, as families described cooking on campfires and washing in the sea.
More than a million Palestinians in Rafah will have nowhere to turn if there is an assault on the border town that was supposed to be their last refuge. With safe passages to Egypt denied, impending mass killings and devastation will likely affect Palestinian civilians at an incredible scale. There massive queues for food and one of the only hospitals in Rafah has just 65 beds, and no intensive care unit. The closet larger hospital is 30 minutes away in Khan Younis which is already being heavily bombed. This will likely heavily aggravate the ability of the population to survive further bombing campaigns.
At the same time, shockingly Israel’s naval forces attacked an UNRWA aid convoy that was waiting to enter the Gaza Strip. Israel has been imposing a near total siege on Palestinians since October 2023, causing widespread starvation. Israel’s continued airstrikes throughout Gaza, hitting what it had designated as the ‘safe zone' of Rafah and killing 30 people in Deir el-Balah on the Gaza war’s 122nd day. The ongoing genocidal war had reached Khan Younis leading Palestinian civilians to flee towards the massively overcrowded southern city of Rafah which UN humanitarians described as a pressure cooker of despair’.
Raed al-Nims, the media director of the Palestinian Red Crescent Society in Gaza, raised the alarm: ‘Everyone is afraid of the expanding of the ground operation in Rafah.’ A Palestinian displaced in Rafah testified to the Guardian: ‘Our last stop is Rafah. We are not going to anywhere else out of Gaza Strip. We either go home to our houses, or we die here.’
According to the Palestinian health ministry, The Palestinian death toll in four months has exceeded 27,000, with over 67,000 wounded and 7,000 missing, who are believed to be dead and buried under rubble. Over 70 percent of the victims are children and women.
According to the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres if Israel pushed its Gaza ground invasion into the southern city of Rafah, it would have ‘untold regional consequences’.
The Palestinian Return Centre calls on the international community to demand for a ceasefire to the ongoing war to prevent a further escalation to the genocidal onslaught.
International governments, UN agencies and structures, and international organisations must escalate their forms of protest the Israeli government to ensure that it brings to halt its bombing campaign and the protection of Palestinian civilians is ensured.