Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would order his troops to attack Rafah, a city in Gaza sheltering over one million internally displaced civilians. The situation in the Gazan city is already dire. The UN warns the attack could cause a massive loss of civilian life.
Netanyahu declared Israeli troops would soon attack Rafah. The statement follows the Israeli leader rejecting a ceasefire deal and hostage exchange, saying he would settle for nothing less than “total victory.”
Jens Laerke, a spokesman for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said attacking the city that is sheltering over 1.5 million Palestinians “may constitute war crimes.“ “To be clear, intensified hostilities in Rafah in this situation could lead to large-scale loss of civilian lives, and we must do everything possible within our power to avoid that,” he warned.
Palestinians living in Rafah are sheltering in tents. The people lack food and clean drinking water. Disease and starvation are spreading in the city. Gazans feel the coming assault has them “waiting to be martyred.”
Omar Shaki, the Israel-Palestine director at Human Rights Watch, expressed that Israeli attacks on the densely populated city will add to the 11,500 children Israel has killed in Gaza over four months. “Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on Earth, and Rafah is now the most densely populated place in Gaza. Any sort of military campaign or air strike would amplify risks of disproportionate attacks,” he stated.
It is unclear where the Palestinians will go after Rafah is destroyed by the Israeli military. Tel Aviv has placed two-thirds of the Strip under execution order. Outside of Rafah, other places in Gaza deemed “safe zones” lack infrastructure to support the 2.3 million Palestinians living in the small enclave. Egypt has threatened to go to war if the Israeli military attempted to drive the Palestinians across the border.
Bob Kitchen of the International Rescue Committee explained there was nowhere safe for the Palestinians to go. “If they aren’t killed in the fighting, Palestinian children, women and men will be at risk of dying by starvation or disease,” he said. “There will no longer be a single ‘safe’ area for Palestinians to go to.”
Rafah is the last city in Gaza not devastated by the Israeli military operations in the Strip. However, Israel has conducted scores of strikes in the city. On Wednesday, Israeli strikes in Gaza killed 13 people, including two women and five children.