Palestinians with dual citizenship walk at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, in the hope of getting permission to leave Gaza,

Gaza Refugees Find Safety Amidst Israeli Push in Rafah

The European Union (EU) has expressed concern over reports that the Israeli military plans to continue fighting against Hamas until Rafah. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned that the conflict could spread throughout the region unless a cease-fire is agreed upon between Israel and Hamas. He stated that about 1 million Palestinians have been displaced against the Egyptian border and will have nowhere to go if Israel takes its ground war there.

Rafah, a town on Gaza’s southern border, is hosting over half of the enclave’s 2.3 million residents, who found shelter there after fleeing Israel’s nearly 4-month-old offensive against Hamas. The UN has described Rafah as a “pressure cooker of despair.” Israel has also launched airstrikes in the Gaza cities of Rafah and Deir al-Balah, killing at least 18 Palestinians. The UN has called Rafah a “pressure cooker of despair.”

Hamas has begun to resurface in areas where Israel withdrew its forces a month ago, deploying police officers and making salary payments to some of its civil servants in Gaza City. Israel is determined to crush Hamas and prevent it from returning to power in the enclave it has governed since 2007. Israeli forces have renewed strikes in the western and northwestern parts of Gaza City, including in areas where some salary distributions reportedly took place.

Since the outbreak of the war in Gaza after October 7, Israeli forces have struck more than 50 targets in Syria linked to the Iranian-backed Lebanese movement Hezbollah. Israel has attacked 34,000 Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, including 120 border surveillance outposts, 40 caches of missiles and other weaponry, and more than 40 command centers.

Over 200 enemy dead are reported, and Israel threatens to escalate Lebanon fighting unless Hezbollah withdraws from the border. The Israel-Hamas war has created a “domino effect,” causing conflict in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and the Red Sea area, with over 200 dead.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed al-Thani visited the United Nations to meet with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, following meetings with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken. The meeting focused on efforts to end fighting, secure hostage release, and ensure humanitarian support. U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield praised a robust proposal and urged the U.N. Security Council to intensify pressure on Hamas to accept it.

The mediators are negotiating a new cease-fire to halt fighting and release more hostages and jailed Palestinians held by Israel. The negotiations aim to release around 100 hostages held by Hamas and 240 Palestinians jailed by Israel in a November cease-fire.