Hamas warns Israel Rafah operation may cause casualties in ‘tens of thousands’


Fears are mounting over the fate of more than one million displaced Palestinians who have taken shelter in Rafah, many of them in plastic tents pushed up against the border with Egypt and the sea.

“If they move into Rafah, as Netanyahu said, there will be genocide. There will be no humanity left,” one of them, Adel al-Hajj, a man from Gaza City in the territory’s north, told AFP.

Witnesses reported new strikes on Rafah on Saturday morning.

“We don’t know where to go,” said Mohammad al-Jarrah, a Palestinian who was displaced to Rafah from his home further north. “This situation scares me.”

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip said Israeli bombardment killed at least 110 people overnight, including 25 in Rafah.

At the city’s Al-Najjar hospital, AFPTV images showed a family gathering around the shrouded bodies of relatives.

The city is the last major population centre in the Gaza Strip that Israeli troops have yet to enter and also the main point of access for desperately needed relief supplies.

Humanitarian organisations have sounded alarm at the prospect of a ground incursion.

The UN children’s fund, UNICEF, warned this week against a military escalation in Rafah, saying “thousands more could die in the violence or lack of essential services” it said.

“An escalation of the fighting in Rafah, which is already straining under the extraordinary number of people who have been displaced from other parts of Gaza, will mark another devastating turn” in the four-month conflict, UNICEF added.

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