Israeli authorities announced the expansion of their military operation to remove Hamas from Gaza, targeting Rafah, a city bordering Egypt. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant confirmed the completion of the mission in Khan Younis, a city to the north, before expressing intentions to continue to Rafah.
Rafah, already densely populated with displaced civilians, faces increased risks due to the military escalation. Aid workers and humanitarian organizations cautioned about the potential harm to the already vulnerable population, emphasizing the danger of further conflict in the area.
The population of Rafah has surged to “at least” 1.4 million people, a fivefold increase from the pre-war estimate of 280,000 before October 7, according to Juliette Touma, director of communications for UNRWA. Concerns rise as Israeli officials have not detailed specific plans for Rafah, although the military has previously conducted airstrikes in the area.
The war in Gaza has significantly altered the demographic landscape, with nearly nine out of ten people now displaced, according to U.N. estimates. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stated that “over 100,000 Gazans are either dead, injured, or missing and presumed dead.”
The situation intensifies as Israel extends its military operations, bringing heightened challenges to the already strained humanitarian conditions in Gaza.