Israel’s invasion of Rafah will worsen suffering for Palestinians

The world must oppose these attacks and call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire.

Palestinians in Gaza were overjoyed with the news of possible cease-fire. But that happiness was cut short after the start of the Israeli invasion of Rafah on May 6. Prior to Oct. 7, the city was home to 275,000 Palestinians. Today, Rafah is home to 1.4 million Palestinians, largely displaced from their homes across the Gaza Strip. In addition, Rafah is the border city between Egypt and Gaza through which aid and passengers cross into the coastal enclave.   

World leaders from Europe to the U.S have warned against Israel’s plan to invade Rafah as it would result in grave humanitarian consequences for the Palestinian people, who are already overwhelmed by seven months of nonstop bombardment and displacement.  

Today, it’s critical that we urge Congress to demand an immediate and permanent cease-fire.  

A few hours into the invasion of Rafah, Israel took control of the Rafah crossing. As a result, no Palestinian or international delegations can leave or enter Gaza. This includes aid trucks, the most important lifeline to Gaza from the outside world. Without aid trucks, the south of Gaza is at risk of mass starvation, which the north is already experiencing. Prices also skyrocketed once Israel announced its plans to invade the Eastern neighborhoods of Rafah, putting food and other necessities even further out of reach. 

Israel has designated the Al-Mawasi Area safe for Palestinians to evacuate to from Rafah. But the area is already overcrowded with displaced Palestinians and is not equipped to accommodate another 100,000 more. It also lacks clean water, space for more tents, and an adequate number of health clinics.  

Asking Palestinians to evacuate there will only increase their suffering and possibly lead to more deaths. Israel has previously targeted tents in Al-Mawasi Area with airstrikes, killing and injuring Palestinians there.  

Israel must immediately stop its attack on Rafah. In addition, Palestinians must also be allowed to return to their homes in northern Gaza, since Israel declared the end of military operations there. Although most homes in northern Gaza were destroyed, Palestinians are willing to return and restart their lives, even on top of the rubble of their homes.  

Occupying and shutting down the Rafah Crossing by Israeli forces is a death sentence for thousands of injured Palestinians who are need of medical treatment outside Gaza. It is counterproductive to U.S. efforts to bring more aid into Gaza, and it only advances the plans of Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu and his far-right coalition members who have been pushing for a military invasion of Rafah, which also might put the lives of the Israeli hostages at risk.  

The world must stand firmly against the continued Israeli invasion of Rafah and exert pressure on Israel to stop it. The unfolding implications of this invasion are yet again causing another disaster for the population of Gaza. Rahaf Hamdan, a child from Gaza told the AFSC, “My only wish is for the war to end, and that the other countries can contribute to stopping the war.”  

Please join in solidarity with the people of Gaza. Keep urging Congress to demand a stop to the attack on Rafah and call for a permanent cease-fire.