More than a million Palestinians are currently sheltering in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza that has become a refuge of last resort within the territory. Israel has announced plans to send ground troops into Rafah, raising fears about civilian casualties. The news has prompted warnings from the Biden Administration. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said an operation in Rafah would be a “disaster,” and the White House would not support it. President Biden also stated that the Israeli response to the October 7th attacks had been “over the top.”
An aid worker with the Norwegian Refugee Council, Yousef Hammash, spoke about the hardships faced by his family when they were forced to flee their home in Gaza due to Israel’s bombardment. They moved several times before seeking refuge in Rafah. He described the tough decisions they had to make for the safety of their family. They faced overcrowded living conditions, a shortage of medication, and unaffordable food prices.
Despite arriving early in Rafah and securing a house, Hammash expressed concern for the thousands of families living in makeshift shelters. The population of Rafah has more than quadrupled and the city lacks the necessary infrastructure to support the influx of people. Families are struggling to find shelter, food, and water, particularly during harsh weather conditions. Many are using the sidewalk as shelter and are desperate for basic necessities.