Over 1 million Palestinians are trapped in and around Rafah, Gaza, as Israel prepares to complete a plan to evacuate them and launch a ground assault against Hamas fighters in the southern Gaza city. Aid agencies warn that large numbers of civilians could die in the Israeli offensive, and the U.N. Palestinian refugee agency says it does not know how long it could work “in such a high-risk operation.” The United Nations has warned that Palestinian civilians in Rafah require protection but should not be forced mass displacement, which is barred by international law.
Washington, Israel’s main supporter, has briefed Israel on a new U.S. national security memorandum reminding countries receiving U.S. arms to adhere to international law. The Palestinian Presidency claims that Netanyahu’s plans aimed to displace the Palestinian people from their land, and the Palestinian Authority’s office of Mahmoud Abbas said that taking this step threatens security and peace in the region and the world. An Israeli official declined to be named said that Israel would try to organize for people in Rafah, most of whom fled there from the north, to be moved back northwards ahead of any assault.
Gaza’s health ministry reported at least 27,947 Palestinians had been confirmed killed in the conflict and 67,459 injured. Hamas gunmen killed some 1,200 people and took 253 hostages in the Oct. 7 rampage into southern Israel, according to Israeli tallies. Almost one in 10 Gazans under the age of five are now acutely malnourished, according to initial U.N. data from arm measurements showing physical wasting.
ActionAid said that some Gazans were eating grass, and every single person in Gaza is now hungry, and people have just 1.5 to 2 litres of unsafe water per day to meet all their needs. Israel’s military said its forces had been in action in the area of Khan Younis and in northern and central Gaza to eliminate militant cells and destroy militant infrastructure. Hamas has denied hiding among civilians, including at schools, shelters, and hospitals.
Hamas proposed a ceasefire of 4-1/2 months, during which remaining hostages would go free, Israeli troops would withdraw, and agreement would be reached on ending the war. Netanyahu rejected Hamas’ terms as “delusional” and a response to a plan developed by the U.S. and Israeli spy chiefs with Qatar and Egypt.