The conflict in Gaza has been ongoing for years, with the latest escalation occurring after Islamist militants killed more than 1,160 people and kidnapped over 250 in southern Israel. As a result, Israel launched a relentless campaign of bombing and ground operations against Gaza, resulting in the death of mainly women, children, and adolescents.
In response to the violence, Hamas issued a warning about the severe consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, the last refuge for Palestinians displaced by the war in Gaza. The Islamic extremist movement stated that tens of thousands of people could be killed or injured in the city. Witnesses reported bombings in the surrounding areas of Rafah as well.
The city is home to over 1.3 million Palestinians, more than half of the total population of Gaza. These refugees have fled Israeli offensives in other areas and are living under difficult conditions in Rafah. The Hamas Health Ministry reported intense fighting at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and Al Amal hospital in Rafah was raided by Israeli forces.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the military to draw up a plan for evacuating civilians from Rafah after American President Barack Obama called on him to cease hostilities immediately. However, there are concerns about a potential humanitarian catastrophe if civilians are forced to evacuate without a safe place to go. The United States, European Union, and UN have all warned against such actions and called for an immediate ceasefire.
On the diplomatic front, talks began in Cairo with the aim of obtaining greater access to humanitarian aid for Gaza and an exchange of hostages held by Hamas by Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. However, tensions remain high as Iranian-backed groups continue to launch attacks against Israel from neighboring countries like Lebanon and Syria. This has led to retaliation from Israel and its allies