Palestinians Flee Israeli Bombardment in Gaza on 1948 Nakba Anniversary

Wed May 15 2024
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RAFAH: Tens of thousands of civilians fled heavy Israeli bombardment in Gaza as Palestinians on Wednesday marked 76 anniversary of their mass displacement during Israel’s creation which they call the Nakba or “catastrophe”, AFP reported.

Israeli forces have bombed several residential areas around Gaza’s far-southern city of Rafah and in northern and central areas which Israeli troops first entered months ago.

The escalation prompted concerns from the United States, warning Israel of the risk of being entangled in a prolonged military bombardment. Despite this, the Biden administration reiterated its support for Israel’s security and announced a new $1 billion weapons package for the nation.

US President Joe Biden has threatened to withhold some arms deliveries over Netanyahu’s insistence on attacking Rafah, the last Gaza city so far spared a ground invasion, which is packed with civilians. However, Biden’s administration has also stressed it will continue to support Israel’s security and informed Congress on Tuesday of a new $1 billion weapons package for Israel, official sources told AFP.

Meanwhile, the European Union urged Israel to cease its military operation immediately, cautioning of strained relations otherwise. UN agencies reported that nearly one-quarter of Gaza’s population had been newly displaced this month alone, highlighting the humanitarian crisis unfolding in the region.

UN agencies warn that the latest Israeli bombardment has newly displaced nearly one-quarter of the Gaza Strip’s Palestinian population this month — including about 450,000 people from Rafah and 100,000 from northern Gaza.

Since October 7 last year, Israel has launched a relentless bombardment campaign in Gaza killing at least 35,173 Palestinian people, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry, and an Israeli siege has brought dire food shortages and the threat of famine in parts of Gaza.

The sight of desperate families carrying their scant belongings through the ruins of war-scarred cities has evoked for many the events of 1948, when around 760,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes.

Hamas declared in a Nakba Day statement that “the ongoing suffering of millions of Palestinian refugees inside Palestine and in the diaspora is directly attributed to the Zionist occupation”. The Palestinian resistance group said that “their legitimate right to return to their homes from which they were displaced cannot be compromised or relinquished”.

Hamas reiterated their demand for the right of return for refugees, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to eradicate the Palestinian resistance group and secure the release of hostages.

Meanwhile, international calls for a political resolution and humanitarian aid intensify. However, mediation efforts have stalled, and aid deliveries into Gaza face significant challenges, with a recent convoy being ransacked by Israeli activists.

US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators have pushed for a truce and hostage release deal for months, but the talks are now close to “a stalemate”, said Qatar’s Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani.

Sporadic aid deliveries into Gaza by truck have slowed to a trickle since Israeli forces took control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt last week.

Another convoy carrying humanitarian relief goods was ransacked by Israeli right-wing activists on Monday after it had crossed from Jordan through the occupied West Bank.

Washington and London condemned the attack, and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said he was “outraged” about the assault at a time when “hundreds of thousands of civilians are starving”.

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