Humanitarian catastrophe looms as Israel wages mass assault on Rafah; tens of thousands of casualties expected
02/13/2024 // Ethan Huff // Views

There is nowhere left for Palestinian civilians to run as Israel has driven them all to Rafah in southern Gaza where they now await a full-scale offensive by Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

The city of formerly around 450,000 people is now home to around 1.3 million people, most of them refugees from northern Gaza, who took shelter there after Israel drove them all south toward Egypt. Israel previously said these Palestinians would be safe in southern Gaza, but now the IDF is readying to attack Rafah.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli army to prepare to evacuate civilians from Rafah, but to where? Relocating 1.3 million people is a tall order in and of itself, not to mention the fact that Egypt, which borders Rafah, is not allowing them to enter its borders.

Many of the 1.3 million civilian Palestinians now in Rafah are living in tents pushed up against both the border with Egypt and the Mediterranean Sea. The area is said to be home to four Hamas battalions that the Israeli military will target once it gains entry.

Because of the massive scope of this operation, Netanyahu has ordered reserve soldiers in Israel to remobilize and aid in it execution, which Gaza's Hamas leaders say could result in "tens of thousands" of casualties throughout the city.

(Related: Free speech is under attack in Israel as the Knesset approves legislation to imprison those who "deny" or "downplay" Israel's version of what happened on October 7.)

Israel tells embattled Palestinian civilians to find safety, but there is none

Speaking on behalf of Gazans, the office of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said the Israeli plan "threatens security and peace in the region and in the world," representing "a blatant violation of all red lines."

The IDF, meanwhile, is dropping leaflets all over Rafah telling civilians in the area to relocate to safe locations, the irony being that there are none. An open-air concentration camp, Gaza is now surrounded on all sides by forces that do not want them, so at this point it would take a miracle to save them from Israeli aggression.

Since there is nowhere left to flee to the south, or to the east, or to the north, or to the west, Rafah is likely to be ground zero for the total annihilation of all remaining Palestinian Gazans, assuming Israel succeeds in its military operation.

"Any Israeli incursion in Rafah means massacres, means destruction," said Rezik Salah, 35, a resident of Gaza who fled his home with his wife and children early in the war. "People are filling every inch of the city and we have nowhere to go."

Saudi Arabia is warning that any Israeli incursion in Rafah will have dire consequences, leading to a "humanitarian catastrophe" of massive proportions. The Arab state is calling on the United Nations (UN) Security Council to intervene.

Storming and targeting Rafah, the kingdom further warned, will trigger "extremely dangerous repercussions," further affirming its "categorical rejection and strong condemnation of their forced deportation."

"This continued violation of international law and international humanitarian law confirms the necessity of convening the Security Council urgently to prevent Israel from causing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe."

Until an independent Palestinian state is "recognized" and Israeli forces completely leave Gaza, Saudi Arabia has said it will not establish any ties with Israel whatsoever. Though it has never recognized the Jewish ethnostate of Israel, Saudi Arabia had been considering it prior to October 7, but no longer.

Israel cares not for innocent Palestinian lives, which are mere collateral damage in its war for the "holy land." Find out more at

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