Palestinians prepare for an Israeli assault on their final sanctuary in Gaza.

by Abbas Adil

Shafaqna India: Israeli airstrikes have resulted in the deaths of 117 Palestinians in the past 24 hours, according to the health ministry in the Gaza Strip. More than a million Palestinians in the border city of Rafah are bracing for a potential full-scale offensive, with no safe havens left.

In contrast to previous Israeli attacks on Gaza’s cities, where civilians were urged to flee south, there are no remaining areas relatively unscathed in the small territory.

Despite warnings from several countries and aid agencies about the potential for large numbers of civilian casualties, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office has instructed the military to devise a plan to eliminate “four Hamas battalions deployed there.”

The death toll in the besieged territory has now surpassed 28,000 over the past four months, with the recent addition of 117 fatalities.

“Any Israeli incursion into Rafah means massacres, means destruction. People are filling every inch of the city and we have nowhere to go,” said Rezik Salah, 35, who, along with his wife and two children, had to flee his home in Gaza City for Rafah in October when Israel resumed its aggression against Palestinians.

With Israeli forces destroying large portions of towns with airstrikes, artillery fire, and controlled detonations, over 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced.

Israeli forces continue “intensive” operations in Khan Yunis, northern and central Gaza, as well as the border town of Rafah.

In Gaza City, the first major city targeted by Israel’s operation after ground forces invaded in late October, residents reported intense fighting on Saturday.

The ongoing operation in Gaza City, months after it began and well after Israel claimed to redeploy some troops to other areas, highlights the challenges of relocating displaced people from Rafah to other parts of the enclave.

Doctors and aid workers are struggling to provide even basic assistance to Palestinians sheltering around Rafah.

The Palestinian presidency criticized Netanyahu’s plans, stating they aimed to displace Palestinians from their land, which could threaten security and peace in the region and the world.

The United Nations emphasized the need to protect Palestinian civilians in Rafah, but stressed that forced mass displacement is prohibited by international law.

“No war can be allowed in a gigantic refugee camp,” said Jan Egeland, secretary general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, expressing concern about a potential bloodbath if Israeli troops move into Rafah.

Philippe Lazzarini, the head of the UNRWA agency, described a growing sense of anxiety and panic in Rafah, with people unsure where to go.

Meanwhile, the United States stated it would not support an assault that does not prioritize the protection of civilians and had briefed Israel on a new US national security memorandum reminding countries receiving military aid to adhere to international law.

Source: Dawn News

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