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Worries remain of a Palestinian exodus into Egypt after Rafah invasion

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In the middle of a dark Easter in the Holy Landa frightening reality remains: Israel could soon trigger an exodus to Egypt.

For weeks, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has signaled his intention to launch a full-scale offensive against Rafah, the southern Gaza city that is now home to more than a million Palestinians seeking refuge in their war-ravaged territory. Netanyahu and his allies want to erase the militant group Hamas’ footprint in the city — no matter the skepticism of experts who say the Islamist organization is far from defeated or the concerns of foreign diplomats and aid workers who fear calamity which would follow for civilians. Israeli assault.

A major decision would trigger the frenzied flight of hundreds of thousands of Gazans, many of whom arrived in the city after their homes and neighborhoods elsewhere in the Gaza Strip were pulverized by the Israeli army after October. 7 war against Hamas. For months, there has been speculation about whether Egypt would allow tens of thousands of Palestinians to flee to safety in the Sinai desert. Cairo is unwilling to admit an influx of refugees, given both its own internal security concerns and broader pan-Arab concerns that Palestinians would not be able to return to their home countries as the previous generation of Palestinian refugees.

On Tuesday, Volker Turk, the United Nations human rights chief, said world leaders “are united on the imperative to protect the civilian population trapped in Rafah.”

A mass grave was discovered in a hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza, after the withdrawal of Israeli forces on April 7, according to local testimonies. (Video: AP)

The Biden administration and the United States’ key European partners have all urged Netanyahu to reconsider an intensive operation in Rafah.. In a phone call with the Dutch prime minister on Wednesday, Egyptian President Abdel Fatah El-Sisi said a ground offensive would have “catastrophic consequences” on both the humanitarian situation in the war-ravaged Gaza Strip. war and on broader “regional peace and security”.

On Thursday, amid weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions, it appeared that momentum might have been returning toward some sort of political deal. An Egyptian delegation will visit Israel on Friday to discuss “security coordination,” an Israeli official told my colleagues, perhaps signaling a resumption of efforts to secure a ceasefire and a deal to release prisoners. hostages after months of turbulent indirect talks between Israel, Hamas and their intermediaries.

The latest round of diplomatic measures comes at a time when it seemed that the long-discussed strike on Rafah was becoming inevitable. The pace of Israeli airstrikes on the city has accelerated this week. Netanyahu’s main spokesman said Israel would “move forward” with an operation in Rafah. On the Prime Minister’s right flank, the extremist ministers of his coalition had already threatened to withdraw their support for his government mandate if he did not, proverbially, finish his job.

Netanyahu has also faced other domestic pressures. Massive anti-government protests have returned to the streets of Tel Aviv in recent weeks, with demonstrators calling on Netanyahu to prioritize the release of Hamas hostages – rather than his ambitious, stated military goals – and also demanding new elections. The prime minister enjoys appalling popularity ratings in the wake of Hamas’ deadly terrorist attack on Israel on October 7; a new election would likely force him out of power.

“Netanyahu has no interest in giving this gift,” wrote Haaretz’s Ravit Hecht, referring to the prime minister allowing an election he would likely lose. “He describes the very word “election” as criminal and unpatriotic. And even if he is forced to promise to organize one, no one will believe him.”

Meanwhile, the picture in Gaza remains bleak. If they do not go to Egypt, the residents of Rafah could be forced by an Israeli offensive to flee to other areas of the territory where Israel has already paved the way for destruction. In northern Gaza, U.S. officials and humanitarian groups believe famine may already prevail, although increased humanitarian aid in recent days has generated some optimism.

But these developments could mark the prelude to an offensive. “Some analysts see both the increased military activity and the humanitarian blitz, as well as signs of new tent cities in central Gaza, as precursors to an invasion of Rafah,” my colleagues reported .

Aid organizations with access to Gaza say other parts of the territory are ill-equipped for an influx from Rafah. Sacha Myers, media manager for Save the Children, described the scene in the town of Khan Younis, north of Rafah, which many humanitarian officials describe as largely destroyed.

“I have visited many war and disaster zones, but I have never been in a situation where, as far as the eye can see, every building is just rubble,” Myers said in an emailed statement . “In some conflicts you will see damage, but there are gaps between the damage and the buildings still standing. Here – you turn 360 degrees – every building is either badly damaged or in ruins on the ground. And not just one or two streets, but dozens of streets.

A letter addressed to President Biden and signed by the leaders of more than 50 international humanitarian nonprofit organizations, including CARE and the International Rescue Committee, urged the White House to do more to protect Palestinian lives and salvage an effort humanitarian weakened and besieged. He warned that an invasion of Rafah, as the current center of Gaza’s international emergency humanitarian response structure and site of crucial warehouses and distribution centers, would be a major blow to relief efforts in the territory.

“We believe that if an offensive occurs and the aid architecture collapses in the Gaza Strip, there is no credible or enforceable humanitarian plan to prevent a famine affecting hundreds of thousands of people,” can we read in the letter.

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jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
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