The international community shows indifference as Israel conducts deadly attacks in Gaza’s Rafah and continues to pursue plans for ground assaults in areas where over a million Palestinians are seeking refuge. Israel’s bombings in Rafah coincide with Palestinians in southern Gaza preparing for a potential ground invasion that is anticipated to cause significant loss of life.

The New Arab Staff

Israel has carried out air strikes in the southern Gaza city of Rafah where over a million Palestinians are sheltering after being displaced by the war.

According to health officials, scores were killed in the overnight massacre, as Palestinians brace for a major offensive on the densely crowded area with Palestinians left with nowhere safe to go.

Palestinian officials reported that at least 67 people were killed in the attacks, while a Palestinian foreign ministry statement later said that 100 people were killed and hundreds of others injured in several massacres resulting from the pre-dawn strikes.

The victims included many women and children, according to Wafa news agency, which said the strikes targeted residential buildings and three mosques, where dozens had sought refuge. 

Rafah is now the most densely populated area in the world with some 1.5 million Palestinians crammed there after being displaced from northern and central Gaza following orders from Israel.

The latest horrifying attacks would only be a glimpse of what is to come if Israel presses ahead with its plans for a ground invasion of the area in southern Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on Monday that the Rafah operation would go ahead.

Washington, which initially opposed Israel’s plan, appeared to have all but greenlit Israel’s invasion despite reports that relations between US President Joe Biden and Netanyahu were at breaking point.

Washington has backed Tel Aviv’s war under the pretext of fighting Hamas, despite the majority of those killed being women and children.

However, tensions between the allies have been on the rise, with Biden describing Israel’s military campaign against Hamas as “over the top”.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas warned of the “grave dangers” of the possible Israeli invasion of Rafah, Wafa reported.

In a statement on Monday, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) warned that the invasion of Rafah will have “potentially catastrophic consequences”.

“Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and repeated forced displacements have pushed people to Rafah, where they are trapped in a tiny patch of land and have no options[…]We call on the government of Israel to immediately halt this offensive, and to all supporting governments including the United States, to take concrete action to bring about a complete and sustained ceasefire,” Meinie Nicolai, MSF Director General, said.

The situation is ‘very, very dangerous’

British Foreign Secretary David Cameron also urged Israel to stop and think seriously before taking any further action in Rafah in comments on Monday.

“We think it is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people. There’s nowhere for them to go,” Cameron told reporters.

“We are very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think very seriously before it takes any further action. But above all, what we want is an immediate pause in the fighting and we want that pause to lead to a ceasefire.”

Belgian minister Caroline Gennez described the situation as extremely worrying in comments to reporters ahead of an EU informal meeting of development ministers in Brussels.

“We’ll be discussing UNRWA and the situation in Gaza. We live in the most dire humanitarian crisis in ages, 1.2 million people are stuck at the border with Rafah. The situation is very, very dangerous,” said the development cooperation minister.

“That’s why it is important that we keep supporting innocent civilians. That we ask for an immediate cease-fire. That we ask for the liberation of the hostages. And that we also ask for more humanitarian access into the Gaza Strip.”

Gennez said hostilities must end, adding that “Gazans, Palestinians and Israelis alike have the right to live in peace, to live in security and that’s why negotiations must start for a two-state solution.”

Israel’s onslaught on the besieged Gaza Strip has already killed over 28,300 people – mostly women and children – and injured at least 67,900 since 7 October.

Biden hosts King of Jordan to discuss Gaza deal

The meeting with King Abdullah II comes as Biden and his aides are working to broker another pause in Israel’s war on Gaza to allow aid entry.

President Joe Biden is hosting Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Washington on Monday and the two leaders are expected to discuss the ongoing effort to free hostages held in Gaza, and growing concern over a possible Israeli military operation in the port city of Rafah.

It is the first meeting between the allies since three American troops were killed last month in a drone strike against a U.S. base in Jordan.

Biden blamed Iran-backed militias for the fatalities, the first for the U.S. after months of strikes by such groups against American forces across the Middle East since the start of Israel’s war on Gaza.

The meeting with King Abdullah II comes as Biden and his aides are working to broker another pause in Israel’s war in order to send humanitarian aid and supplies into the besieged enclave and get captives out.

The White House faces growing criticism from Arab Americans over the administration’s continued support for Israel in the face of growing casualties in Gaza.

It appeared a deal for another pause in the fighting was getting close.

A senior U.S. administration official said on Sunday that after weeks of shuttle diplomacy and phone conversations, a framework was essentially in place for a deal that could see the release of the remaining captives in Gaza in exchange for a halt to the fighting.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the negotiations, acknowledged that gaps remained but declined to specify what they were.

The potential for an agreement took up the majority of Biden’s call Sunday with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The official said the two leaders also had a significant back and forth about the potential expansion of Israeli military operations into Rafah and that Biden reiterated U.S. opposition to the idea under the “current conditions” while more than 1.3 million people are sheltering there.

It was the most forceful language yet from the president on the possible operation.

Biden, who last week called Israel’s military response in Gaza “over the top”, also sought “urgent and specific” steps to strengthen humanitarian aid. Israel’s Channel 13 television said the conversation lasted 45 minutes.

The official said the Israelis “made clear they would not contemplate an operation” in Rafah without safeguarding the civilian population. The official said the U.S. is not sure there is a feasible or implementable plan to relocate civilians out of Rafah to allow military operations to take place.

Jordan and other Arab states have been highly critical of Israel’s actions and have eschewed public support for long-term planning over what happens next, arguing that the fighting must end before such discussions can begin.

They have been demanding a ceasefire since mid-October as civilian casualties began to skyrocket.

Biden had planned to visit Jordan during his trip to Israel in October shortly after 7 October, but the trip was scrapped.

On his way home from Israel, Biden announced he’d helped broker the first deal to pause fighting temporarily and to open the crossing in Rafah to humanitarian aid.

In the months since members of his administration have made repeated trips to the region to engage with leaders there. –

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