Israel says it will expand operations in Rafah, Gaza’s last refuge


Rafah, a small city in southern Gaza Located on the border of Egypt, One of the last refuges during the Israeli rule Gaza warfive times The population has grown as displaced people from the northern Gaza Strip seek safety.

The city is now being targeted, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying his forces are “preparing to enter Rafah,” raising concerns about the fate of displaced civilians trapped in Rafah. approximately 25 square miles Areas of nowhere. Israel’s plans have heightened tensions with its biggest ally, the United States, which remains opposed to a large-scale ground operation in Rafah.

“If Israel enters Gaza, we will face a huge loss of life,” said Bob Kitchen, vice president for emergencies at the International Rescue Committee, a humanitarian aid group operating in Gaza.

Israeli officials say Operation Rafah is needed by Hamas, the Palestinian group that controls Gaza, to complete its goal of destroying the organization after it launched a devastating attack on Israel on October 7.

Faced with U.S. opposition, Netanyahu remains defiant

“I want you to know that I have approved the IDF’s operational plan and soon we will also approve the plan to evacuate civilians from the war zone,” Netanyahu told Israelis in Hebrew on Wednesday.

He said preparations for the invasion would take “a little time.”Netanyahu acknowledged differences with the United States over Rafah’s plans, adding he opposed President Biden In a conference call this week, he argued the operation was necessary to “eliminate the remnants of the Hamas camp.”

Earlier this week, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters that Biden remained “deeply concerned” about Israel’s plans.

Sullivan said Biden asked Netanyahu to send a team of military, intelligence and humanitarian officials to Washington for discussions because so far, Israel “has not presented to us or the world how to safely evacuate these civilians or travel to Where are the plans, let alone”. Provide them with food and shelter, and ensure they have access to basic items such as sanitation. He added that at the meeting, U.S. officials would propose an “alternative” way to eliminate Hamas without a ground invasion. The meeting is expected to take place next week, with Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Ron Dermer and National Security Counselor Chachi Hanegbi and others will be in attendance.

Nearly nine out of 10 Palestinians in Gaza have been displaced

Juliette Touma, communications director for UNRWA, the United Nations agency for Palestine, wrote in a message that Rafah’s population had increased to “at least” 1.4 million. “That’s five times the pre-war population,” Touma said of Rafah, whose population before 7 October was estimated at 280,000.

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Israeli officials have not yet specified what their plans for Rafah look like. The country’s military has carried out attacks in the area. In mid-February, the Israeli military Rescue two hostages In December, under cover of deadly airstrikes that local officials said killed at least 67 people, Airstrike near Kuwait hospital kills At least 18 people, According to hospital staff.

The war in Gaza radically changed the demographics of the region. The United Nations estimates that nearly nine out of 10 people living in Gaza are now displaced, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization, said on February 1, “ More than 100,000 Gazans are either dead, injured, missing or presumed dead.”

Satellite images from January 15, 2023, and January 31, 2024 show that the population of Gaza Salafa has surged since October 7, from 280,000 to 1.4 million. (Video: Planet)

Before October 7, the most populous part of the strip was Gaza City in the north.

  • On October 13, six days after the Hamas-led attack on Israel that sparked the war, Israel ordered the evacuation of more than 1 million people living in the area above Gaza’s wadi marshes. Many people have taken refuge in Khan Younis, Gaza’s second largest city in southern Gaza.
  • In early December, the Israeli army launched a military operation in the city of Khan Younis, and the Israeli authorities ordered Palestinians in the city to move to new areas.
  • Jens Laerke, spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said more than half of Gaza’s total population is thought to live in Rafah, with many “living in makeshift buildings, tents or in the open air.”in February, adding that the city had become “The pressure cooker of despair.”

growing humanitarian crisis

For those who faced bombing in the enclave, leaving Rafah was not a simple process. The area is home to the Rafah crossing point, which connects Gaza Strip To the Northern Sinai region of Egypt, Egypt Determined to prevent Palestinian exodus Refugees, worried about political and security implications.

The crossing, the only one through Gaza not directly controlled by Israel, is open but only for those who are able to secure a spot on the embassy’s list to evacuate their nationals and affiliates, and those who are able to pay expensive fees to tourist companies, These companies facilitate movement across borders.

Egyptian hospitals ready to treat injured Gazans, but borders closed

Aid groups have warned that an incursion into Rafah would lead to an even greater humanitarian disaster in the besieged enclave, parts of which may already fall under government control. famine.

A new report from international food security experts outlines a grim forecast: As many as half of Gaza’s population – 1.1 million people — Expect catastrophic levels of food insecurity between now and July Rafa was invaded The conflict continues to escalate.

Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, said the Rafah offensive would devastate the already precarious Gaza Strip. aid distribution According to Reuters, the network.

One Palestinian aid worker, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly, wrote in a message that the widespread use of tents reminded him of stories his grandfather told him about the living conditions of refugees after the 1948 Israeli occupation. Arab Wars. Rescue workers said the tents can be up to 200 square feet in size and can accommodate one or two families.

Hygiene precautions have failed due to overcrowding. “Thousands of people share individual toilets,” Kitchen said, adding that IRC staff in Rafah have seen “queues of four to five hours” to use the toilets. Open defecation and urination pose public health risks.

“We’ve seen a lot of reports of acute watery diarrhea, which I think if tested, would turn out to be cholera,” Kitching said.

correct

A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant posted remarks about Rafah on X (formerly Twitter) on February 2. He posted this on February 1st.

Karen DeYoung and Rachel Pannett contributed to this report.



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By Ali Raza

I am a dedicated and skilled News Content Writer with a passion for delivering accurate and engaging stories to a diverse audience. With a solid background in journalism and a keen eye for detail, I bring a commitment to excellence and a deep understanding of the evolving media landscape.

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