In response to the Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, Hamas issued a stern warning about the catastrophic consequences it could lead to. Tens of thousands of people could be killed or injured in the city, said the Islamic extremist group. Witnesses reported bombings in the surrounding areas of Rafah, which is home to 1.3 million Palestinians, more than half of Gaza’s total population, and most of whom are refugees from other areas of the Strip.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to draw up a plan for evacuating civilians from Rafah after intense fighting at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and Al Amal hospital in Rafah was raided by Israeli forces. The US, EU, and UN have all warned of a potential humanitarian disaster if civilians are forced to flee without safe shelter.
The conflict in Gaza began with an attack by Islamist militants that resulted in over 1,160 deaths and more than 250 kidnappings mainly civilians in southern Israel. In response, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas and launched a relentless campaign of bombing and ground operations against Gaza, killing mostly women, children, and adolescents.
On the diplomatic front, a “new cycle of negotiations” began in Cairo aimed at increasing access to humanitarian aid for Gaza and exchanging hostages held by Hamas for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. The war has also led to tensions between Israel and other countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria