In response to the ongoing conflict in Gaza, Hamas has warned about the severe consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah. The Islamic extremist movement stated that tens of thousands of people could be killed or injured in the city, which is home to 1.3 million Palestinians, more than half of the total population of Gaza. Witnesses reported bombings in the surrounding areas of Rafah, and the Hamas Health Ministry reported intense fighting at the Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and the raid of Al Amal hospital in Rafah by Israeli forces.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has asked the military to draw up a plan for the evacuation of civilians from Rafah, following warnings from various international organizations, including the United States, European Union, and UN, about a potential humanitarian catastrophe if civilians are forced to evacuate without a safe place to go.
The conflict began when Islamist militants killed more than 1,160 people, mostly civilians, and kidnapped about 250 in southern Israel. In response, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas and launched a relentless campaign of bombing and ground operations against Gaza, resulting in the death of mainly women, children and adolescents. The war in Gaza also exacerbated tensions in other countries such as Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen where Iranian-backed groups have launched attacks in support of Hamas prompting retaliation from Israel and its allies.
The situation remains volatile as both sides continue their military actions with no end in sight. The international community must work together to find a peaceful resolution to this conflict before it escalates further and leads to even greater devastation for innocent Palestinians caught up in it.