Thousands Evacuate Rafah as Invasion Looms

( – After Hamas accepted a ceasefire proposal in the Gaza Strip negotiated by Egypt and Qatar, Israel says they still plan to carry out their planned military assault on Rafah to continue weeding out the radical Islamic group acting as the de facto ruling government over the Palestinian territories.

On Monday, May 6th, Hamas announced that Ismail Haniyeh had informed Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman bin Jassim Al Thani and Egyptian intelligence chief Major General Abbas Kamel that Hamas would accept their proposal. Hours before that announcement, Israel warned certain areas of Rafah to evacuate as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) prepared to attack the area.

Typically, Hamas has been known to reject offers, but now the two sides seem to be playing tit-for-tat. Israel responded coldly to the announcement from Hamas, and the office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed the new proposal put forward by Egypt and Qatar as too “far from Israel’s requirements.” The assault on Rafah would go ahead as planned, and it did.

On Tuesday, May 7th, IDF forces took a key crossing point in Rafah along the Egyptian border. Rafah is full of a substantial amount of refugees from other areas of Gaza already ravaged by military operations, and the latest siege of the city could worsen the ongoing humanitarian crisis as civilians are caught in the middle. The Egyptian border is also a significant entry point for aid to suffering Palestinians.

Amid the conflict, both major U.S. political parties are divided on the issue, and protests against Israel and the U.S. government’s involvement have erupted on university campuses nationwide. Those protests escalated after Congress recently passed a foreign aid package that includes more money for Israel. That package would also send more aid to Palestinians, although right-wing opponents of that funding argue it would only refuel Hamas indirectly.

Reactions to the Rafah invasion have been mixed. Israel supporters argue that continuing the campaign to weed out the remaining members of Hamas is necessary to end the conflict. The pro-Palestinian side argues that Israel’s response has gone too far and a ceasefire must happen immediately to spare innocent lives.

The conflict began on Oct. 7th, 2023, when Hamas attacked Israel and killed about 1,200, taking over 200 hostages back over the border. Since then, the Gazan government claims Israel has killed over 35,000 people in Palestinian territories over the last seven months.

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