Israel Vows to ‘Intensify’ Operations in Rafah Despite Global Concerns

Thu May 16 2024
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RAFAH: Israel vowed on Thursday to “intensify” its ground offensive in Rafah, defying international warnings regarding the safety of hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza’s far-southern city.

In a statement, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to “intensify” the ongoing military operations in Rafah. He said that additional forces would be deployed to the densely populated Palestinian territory. He emphasized the continuation of military strikes and increased manoeuvring of Israeli forces in the region.

Displaced Palestinians, fleeing Rafah, are “exhausted, they are scared, they don’t have resources”, said Javed Ali, head of emergency response in Gaza for International Medical Corps. Ali, who works at a field hospital in Al-Mawasi and is an aid veteran of multiple war zones, said the situation in Gaza was “far more catastrophic” than anything he had seen before. “The immense number of trauma cases, the lack of resources, the interrupted supply chain… It’s something that I’ve never seen.”

The decision to ramp up the offensive comes amidst mounting global concerns over the safety of civilians in Rafah, with top ally the United States and other major powers urging restraint. Despite concerns, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed the necessity of the ground assault to destroy Palestinian resistance.

Netanyahu dismissed fears of a humanitarian crisis, despite prevailing famine and disease outbreak among displaced Palestinians seeking refuge in makeshift shelters. Reports from the ground suggest a dire situation.

Meanwhile, heavy Israeli bombardment was reported in other parts of Gaza, notably in the Jabalia refugee camp, where Israeli forces intensified operation.

Meanwhile, calls for civilian protection and humanitarian assistance grow louder. Germany’s Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock voiced deep concern over the situation in Rafah. She emphasized the urgent need of safeguarding civilian lives amidst the escalating violence.

Washington has repeatedly urged its ally to take greater steps to protect civilians — and to make a post-war plan for Gaza to avoid being mired in a long counterinsurgency campaign.

Meanwhile, Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh insisted that “the Palestinian resistance movement is here to stay”. Since October 7 last year, Israel’s devastating military operation has killed at least 35,272 Palestinian people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

An Israeli siege on Gaza has brought dire shortages of food as well as clean water, medicines and fuel for its 2.4 million people. The threat of famine hangs over parts of the war-ravaged territory.

The arrival of occasional aid convoys has slowed to a trickle since Israeli forces took control last week of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing.

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