Israel expands Rafah offensive, saying it now controls Gaza’s entire border with Egypt

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Israel’s military has taken control of the entire border between Gaza and Egypt. This area, known as the Philadelphi Corridor, is crucial because it includes smuggling tunnels used by Hamas. Israel’s action signals a deeper offensive in southern Gaza.

Heavy Fighting in Rafah:

In Rafah, a city on the Gaza-Egypt border, Palestinians report intense fighting. More than 1 million Palestinians have already fled their homes due to the war between Israel and Hamas. They are now living in makeshift camps, lacking basic necessities like food, water, and shelter.

Humanitarian Crisis:

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is dire. The United Nations says that the amount of aid entering Gaza has dropped by two-thirds since the fighting intensified. This decline is due to the closure of border crossings and the inability to safely transport supplies. Only one hospital in Rafah is partially functional.

U.S. and International Reactions:

  • U.S. Response:
    The U.S. is not confirming Israel’s control of the Philadelphi Corridor but acknowledges Israel’s limited ground operations in Rafah. The U.S. has warned against a full-scale offensive in Rafah, citing humanitarian concerns. The Biden administration has refused to supply offensive weapons for such an operation.
  • International Court of Justice:
    The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah as part of a case accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Israel denies these accusations.
  • U.N. Security Council:
    Algeria proposed a resolution demanding Israel stop its offensive in Rafah. However, the U.S. criticized this resolution, stating it wouldn’t change the situation on the ground and emphasized the need for a temporary pause in fighting to secure a long-term end to the war.

Impact on Civilians:

Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, including both combatants and civilians. The conflict began after Hamas’s attack on Israel on October 7, which killed around 1,200 people and led to the abduction of 250 more.

Regional Tensions:

  • Syria and Lebanon:
    Israeli airstrikes in Syria killed a child and wounded several civilians. Strikes targeted areas controlled by Hezbollah, a militant group allied with the Syrian government.
  • Turkey:
    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Israeli actions, calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a “vampire that feeds on blood” after Israeli airstrikes caused deadly fires in a camp for displaced people in Rafah.
  • Brazil and Colombia:
    Brazil withdrew its ambassador to Israel, and Colombia broke diplomatic relations, criticizing Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Calls for Cease-Fire:

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) called for a cease-fire and better humanitarian aid access to Gaza. IFRC emphasized the need for immediate aid and long-term support to rebuild Gaza and help its people recover.

Political Reactions in Israel:

  • Gadi Eisenkot:
    A former military chief and current government partner criticized Netanyahu’s handling of the war, calling for early elections to restore public trust.
  • National Unity Party:
    The party set a June 8 deadline for Netanyahu to change his approach to the war or risk losing their support.

French President Macron:

Macron expressed condolences to the Palestinian people and called for an immediate end to Israel’s military intervention in Gaza, aligning with the International Court of Justice’s order.

U.S. Criticism of Israel:

The U.S. criticized Israel for not doing enough to protect Palestinian civilians and called for the removal of barriers to humanitarian aid. The U.S. reiterated that Israel has obligations under international humanitarian law.

Conclusion:

The situation in Gaza is extremely complex and volatile. Israel’s control of the Gaza-Egypt border and the ongoing fighting in Rafah have escalated the conflict. The humanitarian crisis continues to worsen, with millions of Palestinians displaced and lacking basic needs. International calls for a cease-fire and humanitarian aid access are growing, but achieving a long-term solution remains a significant challenge.

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