Israel occupies the Rafah crossing, the umbilical cord of the Gaza Strip

Israel occupies the Rafah crossing, the umbilical cord of the Gaza Strip

BarcelonaOn Tuesday, the Israeli army took control of the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, which is the only point linking the Gaza Strip to the rest of the world outside Israeli territory. A military spokesman for the Armed Forces (FDI) stated that they had “operational control” of the corridor and that their special forces were “clearing” the corridor, while specifying that the operation was “not over” and refusing to give a time limit.

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The entry of humanitarian aid was completely prevented. Since October 7, humanitarian supplies have been flowing in with people and trucks having to obtain Israeli permits, leading to a hunger crisis of previously unknown proportions, according to international agencies. At the same time, the Israeli bombing has not stopped since Monday on the eastern neighborhoods of the city, where 1.5 million Palestinians, four times the pre-war population, are crowded due to the arrival of those displaced by Israeli attacks.

There is no safe place to escape

The news from Rafah is very disturbing. 1.2 million Palestinians took refuge in the city located at the southern end of the Strip, escaping the Israeli bombing and incursions into the northern and central Strip. They settled in unstable tents or in the homes of friends and relatives, following Israeli evacuation orders. army. The IDF claimed that Rafah was a “safe place.” This Monday they received an evacuation order to move to the coast and now they know that there is no safe place in the Strip: they simply do not know where to go.

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Absolute chaos. Al Jazeera’s correspondent in Rafah, Hani Mahmoud, says: “People are thinking about where they can find some protection for their families, but they know that there is no safe place.” The Israeli bombing led to the death of at least 20 Palestinians, according to the latest figures issued by the health authorities in the Strip.

At the Kuwaiti Hospital, one of the few hospitals still operating in Gaza, they have already received dozens of people wounded from the bombing and warn that they do not have any reinforcements because the city’s other medical center, Al-Najjar Hospital, is closed. In the area that Israel ordered to be evacuated. They warn that they do not have enough beds, health supplies or fuel to operate much longer.

However, the UN reports that Israeli authorities are preventing them from reaching Rafah, and therefore no humanitarian aid is currently entering the Strip. The Israeli army says the crossing was used for “terrorist purposes,” but has provided no evidence. There is only enough fuel left for one day, putting all humanitarian operations at risk.

In fact, Israel has always controlled the materials and people entering Gaza through the Rafah crossing, which has been under an unrelenting siege for 17 years. Since 2007, after Hamas won the elections in Gaza, Egypt, in coordination with Israel, has controlled everything and everyone who crosses the crossing. The lists of persons and goods must receive explicit authorization from the Israeli authorities, in particular the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, the Israeli body responsible for administering the occupied Palestinian territories. For this reason, humanitarian aid has arrived in woefully insufficient quantities since October 7, as Israel always filtered it, forcing entire trucks to return to their destination, whatever the pretext.

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Aid workers who entered the Strip had to obtain an Israeli permit, which is why international journalists could not reach the Strip to do this either, because Israel only allowed very few international channels to enter, which are always “embedded” with its forces. Some Palestinians were able to get away with paying up to 10,000 euros in bribes to Egyptian police officers who control the border.

The Egyptian role and pressure from Hamas

Egypt fears a mass displacement of Palestinians from Gaza to its lands, and has even prepared camps in the middle of the Sinai desert that could house hundreds of thousands of Gazans. Gazans – most of whom are children or grandchildren of 1948 refugees who were forcibly expelled from their homes with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 (the incident that Palestinians remember as the Nakba, catastrophe (In Arabic) – She was reluctant to leave, but everyone knows that steadfastness has limits.

The Israeli attack on Rafah comes amid negotiations to reach a truce. On Monday, he forced Hamas to accept the terms of a new ceasefire, through a three-stage proposal to exchange Israeli hostages for Palestinian prisoners in exchange for a complete withdrawal of the Israeli army from Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu’s government ordered the bombing to continue while sending a mid-level delegation to Cairo to respond to the proposal. It is a (more than small) hope of reaching a truce that would at least mean a break after seven months of war that caused unprecedented devastation in the Strip.

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