Israeli Defence Ministry reveals that the occupation forces are preparing to proceed towards Rafah, farther south of Gaza, close to the Egyptian border.
This comes after the lofty claim of the Israeli military that it had succeeded in defeating Hamas in Khan Younis.
“The Khan Younis Brigade of the Hamas organisation is disbanded; we will complete the mission there and continue to Rafah. The great pressure the forces exert on Hamas targets brings us closer to the return of the abductees, more than anything else. We will continue until the end, there is no other way,” Defence Minister Yoav Gallant wrote on X on Thursday.
On one hand, Israel poses itself amiable to the ceasefire proposals succumbing to the pressure from the protesting settlers awaiting the return of their loved ones held hostage by Hamas, on the other hand, it shows no inclination towards ending the genocidal war on Palestinians.
The revelation about Israel expanding its attack to Rafah city raises several serious concerns.
The city, which is small in area, is overcrowded with people forced to flee their homes
After being expelled from their homes, more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people were living in this area.
Amid the rainy and cold weather conditions, the displaced Palestinian population of around 1.9 million people live in makeshift tents and public buildings without food or other basic supplies for survival.
The displaced Palestinian population squeezed into the small stretch of land is also unprepared for winter. They have no blankets or suitable clothing. As per the weather report, the atmosphere is likely to get colder, and it will stay cold for a couple of weeks, putting many at risk of getting sick.
Rafah, earlier described as a “safe zone”, is the last refuge for the Palestinians in Gaza who have nowhere to go to.
Hence, it is assumed that an attack on the city would mean another heinous genocide resulting in the death of thousands.
As the Israeli defence minister’s statement refused to pay any heed to the plight of these people, the level of panic has increased.
An expansion of the military operation would definitely cause further civilian casualties and larger destruction. People fear that Gallant’s statement is paving the way for more atrocities in Rafah.
It is noteworthy that this is happening just one week after the ruling of the ICJ.
“Most of Gaza’s population is in Rafah. If the tanks storm in, it will be a massacre like never before during this war and we will be left with two choices: stay and die or climb the walls into Egypt,” Emad (55), a businessman and father of six, told the Reuters news agency.
Meanwhile, Qatari and Egyptian mediators have hinted at the positive response from Hamas representatives to the proposal for an extended halt to fighting. At the same time, a final deal with Israel to pause fighting and free Palestinian prisoners in return of releasing the remaining hostages will take a few weeks more.
At least 27,019 people have been killed and 66,139 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.