The ongoing conflict in Gaza, which began when Islamist militants killed more than 1,160 people in southern Israel, has resulted in a dire situation for Palestinians. The Islamic extremist movement Hamas has warned of the severe consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, the last refuge for Palestinians displaced by the war. Tens of thousands of people could be killed or injured in the city, according to Hamas.
The city is home to 1.3 million Palestinians, more than half of the total population of Gaza, and most of them are refugees who fled the Israeli offensive in other areas of the Strip. Witnesses have reported bombings in the surrounding areas of Rafah as Israeli forces continue their relentless campaign against Gaza.
The Hamas Health Ministry has reported intense fighting at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and Al Amal hospital in Rafah. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to draw up a plan for the evacuation of civilians from Rafah after warnings from international leaders about a potential humanitarian catastrophe if civilians are forced to evacuate without a safe place to go.
On the diplomatic front, a new cycle of negotiations began in Cairo with Egypt mediating between Israel and Hamas with aims to obtain greater access to humanitarian aid for Gaza and an exchange of hostages held by Hamas by Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. However, tensions have also increased with Iranian-backed groups launching attacks on Israel and its allies such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen due to their support for Hamas. This has prompted retaliation from Israel and its allies leading to exacerbated tensions.
Overall, it is clear that this conflict continues to pose a significant threat not only to Palestinians but also to regional stability and global peace efforts.