Palestinian children search rubble in Rafah

Palestinian children search for their belongings at the destroyed building after an Israeli attack that continues in Rafah, Gaza on February 9, 2024.

(Photo: Ahmed Zaqout/Anadolu via Getty Images)

As IDF Rafah Invasion Looms, Progressives Urge Biden to 'End the Complicity' in Gaza Genocide

"Clearing Rafah is not war, it is not defense, it is an outright attack on the innocent," said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

As Israeli forces prepare to launch a ground invasion of Rafah—the last refuge for over a million displaced Palestinians—progressive U.S. lawmakers on Sunday implored the Biden administration to do everything in its power to avert yet another catastrophic phase of Israel's Gaza genocide.

Israeli media reported Sunday that preparations for an assault on Gaza's southernmost city are ready, with the army awaiting orders to invade. Israeli airstrikes on the city of 150,000—whose population has swelled to well over 1 million amid an influx of refugees from throughout Gaza— killed dozens of Palestinians this weekend, including numerous women and children.

"Netanyahu's proposed assault on Rafah would be a clear effort to eliminate the Palestinian people," Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) said Sunday, adding that "1.3 million Palestinians sheltering there have nowhere to go."

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) stressed that "there is no other place for Gazans to go."

"Clearing Rafah is not war, it is not defense, it is an outright attack on the innocent," she added. "This is the moment for the United States to act. We must exhaust the levers we have to prevent a humanitarian disaster in the making."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly said during a 45-minute phone call with U.S. President Joe Biden Sunday that the goal of the imminent ground assault on Rafah is "nothing less than total victory" over Hamas, which led the October 7 attacks on Israel and the abduction of over 240 Israelis and others.

Netanyahu on Friday ordered the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) to devise a plan to "evacuate" Rafah—a move human rights defenders condemned as a preparation for yet another Israeli ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Most of Gaza's 2.3 million residents are descendants, and some are survivors, of the forced displacement of more than 750,000 Arabs from Palestine during the Nakba, or catastrophe during the establishment of Israel in 1948.

Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.)—the only Palestinian American member of Congress— noted that "over 1.5 million displaced Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, and now they are being threatened with attacks."

"There is nowhere left for them to go," she added. "When will it be enough for [Biden] to end support for Netanyahu's genocide?"

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield toldNPR Saturday that Israel must protect civilians and that given the current situation in Rafah, Israel's planned invasion "cannot proceed."

"That would dramatically exacerbate the humanitarian emergency that we're all seeking to alleviate right now," she said. "Israel has an obligation to ensure that civilians, that their civilian population is safe and that they're secure and that they have access to humanitarian aid and to basic services."

Amal Asa'ad Baker al-Meinawi, an elderly Palestinian woman who fled to Rafah from the al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, toldThe Palestine Chronicle that this is the second time in her life—she was a toddler during the Nakba—that she's been a refugee from Israeli attacks.

"We ran away under the shelling," al-Meinawi said. "I come from Shati and I am so tired. My sons kept moving me from one car to another. I arrived here using a donkey cart. I just couldn't walk. I am still alive, only God knows how."

"I just want to go home, to my home," she added. "I am very sad. I am tired here, physically, emotionally, and psychologically."

According to Palestinian officials, nearly 104,000 Gazans—mostly women and children—have been killed, wounded, or left missing by Israel's 128-day assault on Gaza.

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