Some 1.5 million Palestinians – including many children – are estimated to be now living in Rafah

Israel faces increasing international warnings over its intended offensive in Rafah, a densely populated area in southern Gaza heavily populated with Palestinian refugees. UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron highlighted the dire humanitarian situation, with over half of Gaza’s population seeking shelter in the city. Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot expressed grave concerns about potential civilian casualties, echoing Saudi Arabia’s warning of “very serious repercussions” if Israel proceeds with the assault.

Hamas, Gaza’s ruling faction, warned of potentially tens of thousands of casualties if Rafah is targeted. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered preparations for the evacuation of civilians from the city before an expanded offensive against Hamas, rejecting the group’s proposed ceasefire terms.

The US, EU, and UN have all voiced apprehensions about the potential consequences of an invasion of Rafah, with aid groups stressing the logistical challenges of evacuating civilians from the densely populated area. UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick emphasized the lack of safe havens for displaced residents if Israeli troops advance.

Amid escalating tensions, the Saudi foreign ministry reiterated calls for an immediate ceasefire and warned against targeting Rafah, emphasizing its status as a refuge for hundreds of thousands of civilians fleeing Israeli aggression.

In ongoing developments, Israeli airstrikes in Rafah resulted in Palestinian casualties, while the IDF claimed to have targeted Hamas operatives and discovered a tunnel near a UN relief agency school, sparking denials from UNRWA officials.

The situation remains volatile, with international actors urging restraint and humanitarian intervention to mitigate the escalating crisis.