“There will be massacres”: Palestinians in Rafah talk about their fears | The Israeli war on Gaza
Rafah, Gaza Strip – About 1.5 million Palestinians live, most of whom are displaced In the small city of Rafah In the south of the Gaza Strip.
They were expelled from their homes in other parts of Gaza during the Israeli offensive on the blockaded enclave, which killed more than 28,000 people.
Israel has designated Rafah a “safe zone,” but is now threatening a ground invasion, leaving more than a million people trapped there, terrified, with nowhere else to go.
Rafah is the latest in a series of areas that Israel said would be “safe zones” for civilians to take shelter after four months of attacks, but Israel has attacked one after another, forcing people out again and again.
There has been international condemnation of Israel’s plan to invade Rafah, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is determined to continue, claiming that it will “eliminate Hamas,” which is the stated intention behind the attack on Gaza.
Senior Hamas leaders said that such a move by Israel would end any possibility of negotiations between the two sides.
Against this background, the fear and panic that gripped people in Rafah is still increasing. Al Jazeera spoke with a number of Palestinians who ended up in Rafah because of the war, and some of them were displaced several times.
“There’s nowhere else to go”
Umm al-Abd Fayyad said that she and her family have been displaced four times so far.
“We are in a different area every month. The last place we were was Khan Yunis, and now we are in Rafah,” she explained.
When asked how she felt about the prospect of an Israeli invasion, Umm al-Abd Fayyad said she had “nowhere else to go.”
“Israelis are everywhere. Where are we going?” she asked, noting that the people around them were “hungry and homeless.”
Like others in the region, she says: “No matter how much they threaten us, we will not move again, and God willing, we will prevail.” We will persevere and remain patient.”
Asaad Hassan, another Palestinian displaced from Gaza City to Rafah, suffers from an illness. He says his only wish is “to return to my home and stop the aggression.”
Hassan told Al Jazeera: “We have no other place to go but the grave if they carry out their threats to invade Rafah.”
Israel’s war on the besieged Gaza Strip began on October 7. On that day, the Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement that rules Gaza, launched attacks on southern Israel, killing 1,139 people and sending about 240 back to Gaza.
Israel responded immediately with a bombing campaign followed by a ground invasion of northern Gaza.
At least 28,340 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, the majority of them women and children, while 67,984 others were injured during the past four months.
The majority of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been forced from their homes, and more than 60 percent of the Strip’s infrastructure has been demolished.
“There will be massacres”
Umm Badr Abu Salamah said that she moved with her family to Rafah based on orders from the Israeli army that the place would be safer.
She told Al Jazeera: “We came to Rafah, and now they are asking us to leave.” “There will be massacres. There is nowhere else to go. Rafah is our last refuge. This war must stop.”
Abu Salamah said: “Anyone who moves will be killed.” “We have no safe place to go.”
Muhammad Madi, a paramedic, has been displaced several times since he was forced to leave his home in Gaza City.
Madi told Al Jazeera: “If the occupation carries out its threats to invade Rafah, it will be a disaster.”
“However, I will not leave Rafah because where will we go? The rest of Gaza has been destroyed. I will die here before I leave,” he said.
Madi said: “We call on the Arab countries… to take a decision and end the genocidal war against Gaza.”
On December 29, South Africa filed a lawsuit against Israel before the International Court of Justice, arguing that it was committing genocide against the Palestinian people, a term many have used to describe the Israeli war on Gaza.
Journalist Alaa Salama, a resident of Rafah who covered the war throughout the Strip, said that he would continue to report from the city despite the Israeli threats.
“The Israeli army has committed countless massacres throughout the Gaza Strip. If it invades Rafah, it will do the same thing,” Salama told Al Jazeera.
“The occupation does not follow international law. “If they invade Rafah, no place will be safe.” “There must be global pressure to prevent this potential crime from occurring.”
He pointed out that Israel has already killed thousands of Palestinians in its air strikes on Rafah during the past few months.
Haifa Muhammad Abdel Hamid Saleh was forced to leave her home in Gaza City and arrived in Rafah. “We left on October 14. We did not want to leave Gaza City or our homes, but the Israeli occupation told us that we would be safe if we did.”
“We hope they do not invade Rafah. If they do, there will be a humanitarian catastrophe – not only among the refugees but also for the city’s residents,” Saleh said.
They burned everything in Gaza. “They want to take revenge on the resistance in Gaza.”
(tags for translation)Features