The United Nations estimates that over 1.3 million Palestinians reside in Rafah, having been evacuated from other parts of Gaza. Residents who were evacuated from Rafah on Friday have expressed their fears to CNN about the possibility of displacement if Israel invades the city, which is situated very close to the Gaza-Egypt border.
Martin Griffiths, who is in charge of humanitarian issues at the UN, warned of the lack of alternative locations in Gaza for the citizens and emphasized the need to ensure their protection and provision of essential needs such as shelter, food, and healthcare.
Outrage in Jordan and Saudi Arabia, Concern in the USA: “This is a disaster for the people”
The Wall Street Journal reported that officials in the Biden administration have identified the operation in Rafah as a contentious issue with Israel. US National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, expressed on Thursday, that the US does not support such military actions which he described as ‘disastrous’ for the people.
Arab nations also oppose the Israeli action. The Saudi Foreign Ministry has publicly opposed Israel’s intention to invade Rafah, warning about its dangerous consequences, and calling for an immediate ceasefire. They also demanded an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council to prevent a potential humanitarian disaster.
The Jordanian Foreign Ministry also expressed concerns over the potential invasion of Rafah by IDF, condemning the displacement of Palestinians, and calling for an immediate cessation of the war in Gaza Strip.
Wall Street Journal: Egypt threatens to suspend peace agreement with Israel if IDF enters Rafah
The potential Israeli action in Rafah has strained relations between Israel and Egypt. The Wall Street Journal reported that Egypt threatened to suspend its peace agreement with Israel if the IDF invaded Rafah or if a wave of Palestinians crossed the border.
According to further reports by the American newspaper, in response to Egyptian concerns, measures such as installing cameras and sensors along the Gaza border have been taken in preparation for possible incursions by Palestinians into Egypt. Reuters reported that Egypt had deployed about 40 tanks and armored personnel carriers to northeastern Sinai in the last two weeks to strengthen their presence on the Gaza border.
Reuters added that since the onset of the war in Gaza, Egypt has constructed a concrete wall along the border, which extends six meters underground, topped with barbed wire. Satellite images have shown the construction work done since the war along the border, with the wall extending right up to the coastline.
Report: Egyptian delegation in Tel Aviv for discussions on Rafah
The Wall Street Journal reported that an Egyptian delegation arrived in Tel Aviv for talks with Israeli officials regarding the situation in Rafah. It is believed that Israel is attempting to gain Egypt’s cooperation for the operation in Rafah, which Egypt opposes.
However, Egypt’s actions are not limited to sending signals to Israel. The Wall Street Journal also reported that Egypt has warned Hamas that if an agreement with Israel is not reached within two weeks, the IDF will continue its ground operations in Gaza. In response, Hamas stated that they are prepared to defend Rafah and will not respond to Israeli threats without an agreement that meets their demands.