Hungry Palestinian children clamor for food aid in Gaza

Hungry Palestinian children clamor for their next meal in Rafah, Gaza on May 3, 2024.

(Photo: Doaa Albaz/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Israel Briefs US on Plan for 'Ethnic Cleansing' of Rafah

"A military invasion in Rafah would be CATASTROPHIC... There can be no more 'evacuations.' There is no safe place to go," said Oxfam, calling for an immediate cease-fire.

Israeli officials have told the Biden administration and humanitarian organizations how they plan to start forcibly expelling Gazans from Rafah ahead of a likely ground invasion—a move critics have likened to the ethnic cleansing of Palestine's Arabs during the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

Politicoreported Friday that Israel Defense Forces (IDF) officials informed the U.S. government and aid agencies that a plan is in place to remove Palestinians from Rafah, where approximately 1.2 million refugees forcibly displaced from other parts of Gaza are precariously sheltering alongside around 280,000 local residents in the embattled strip's southernmost city.

According to an unnamed U.S. official and two other people familiar with the plan, Israel would "move people out of Rafah, the main humanitarian hub in the enclave, to al-Mawasi, a small strip of land on the southern Gaza coast." Politico also obtained a copy of a map containing some details of the plan.

The Wall Street Journalreported Friday that Israel has given Hamas until next week to submit to a cease-fire proposal or face an invasion of Rafah.

"Such an invasion could lead to horrific massacres and raise scenarios of a second Nakba," the Gaza-based Palestinian Center for Human Rights said recently. "After 200 days of horrific genocidal acts in Gaza, the real objectives of the attack are the continuation of the 76-year-long ongoing Nakba and the erasure and genocidal destruction of the Palestinian people in Gaza. Israel is laying the groundwork to fulfill its settler-colonial plan of colonizing Gaza."

Human rights defenders have warned that Israel may ultimately seek to ethnically cleanse as many Palestinians as possible from Gaza.

The situation in Rafah is already dire. Water and other necessities are in desperately short supply. According to James Elder, the global spokesperson for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), there is approximately one toilet for every 850 people in Rafah and one shower for every 3,500 people.

On Friday, Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told reporters in Geneva that an Israeli ground invasion of Rafah would put hundreds of thousands of Palestinians "at imminent risk of death."

"Any ground operation would mean more suffering and death," Laerke said, warning of not only "a slaughter of civilians, but also at the same time an incredible blow to the humanitarian operation in the entire strip, because it is run primarily out of Rafah."

Around 5% of Gazans have been killed, maimed, or left missing by Israel's genocidal assault on Gaza, according to a report published Wednesday by the U.N. Development Program and the U.N. Economic Commission for Western Asia. That's more than 120,000 people, the vast majority of whom are innocent civilians, according to Palestinian officials and international human rights groups.

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