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‘There will be massacres’: Palestinians in Rafah speak of their fears | Israel War on Gaza

Rafah, Gaza Strip – Around 1.5 million Palestinians, most of them displaced, are crammed into the small town of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

They have been driven from their homes elsewhere in Gaza during Israel’s assault on the besieged enclave, which has killed more than 28,000 people.

Israel had designated Rafah as a “safe zone” but is now threatening a ground invasion, leaving more than a million people trapped there, terrified, with nowhere else to go.

Rafah is the latest in a series of areas that Israel has said would be “safe zones” for civilians to take refuge from what is already four months of attacks, but Israel has attacked one after another, forcing people to leave one after the other. and again.

There has been international condemnation of Israel’s plan to invade Rafah, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is determined to press ahead, stating that it would “end Hamas”, which is the stated intention behind the attack on Gaza.

Um el-Abed Fayyad and her family have been displaced four times so far (Sanad Agency/Al Jazeera)

Senior Hamas leaders have said such a move by Israel would end any chance of negotiations between the two sides.

In this context, the fear and panic that has gripped the population of Rafah continues to increase. Al Jazeera spoke to several Palestinians who ended up in Rafah due to the war, some of whom had been displaced many times.

‘Nowhere else to go’

Umm al-Abed Fayyad said she and her family have been displaced four times so far.

“We are in a different area every month. The last place we were was Khan Younis, and now we are in Rafah,” she explained.

When asked how she felt about the possibility of an Israeli invasion, Umm al-Abed Fayyad said she “has nowhere else to go.”

“Israelis are everywhere. “Where are we going?” he asked her, noting that the people around them are “hungry and homeless.”

Assaad Hassan
Assaad Hassan is not feeling well and his only wish in life is to return home (Sanad Agency/Al Jazeera)

Like other people in the area, she says: “No matter how much they threaten, we will not move again and, God willing, we will be victorious. “We will persevere and be patient.”

Asaad Hassan, another Palestinian displaced from Gaza City to Rafah, is not feeling well. His only wish, he says, is “to return to my house and for the aggression to stop.”

“We have nowhere else to go but the grave, if they carry out their threats to invade Rafah,” Hassan told Al Jazeera.

Israel’s war against the besieged Gaza Strip began on October 7. That day, the Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, which rules Gaza, launched attacks on southern Israel, killing 1,139 people and returning about 240 to Gaza.

Israel immediately responded with a bombing campaign followed by a ground invasion of northern Gaza.

Umm Badr
Umm Badr Abu Salme believes massacres are about to happen in Rafah (Sanad Agency/Al Jazeera)

At least 28,340 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza, most of them women and children, while 67,984 have been injured in the past four months.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been forced to leave their homes and more than 60 percent of all infrastructure in the strip has been demolished.

‘There will be massacres’

Umm Badr Abu Salme said she moved with her family to Rafah following orders from the Israeli military that it would be safer.

“We came to Rafah and now they are telling us to leave,” he told Al Jazeera. “There will be massacres. There is no other place to go. Rafah is our last refuge. “This war must end.”

“Anyone who moves dies,” said Abu Salme. “We don’t have a safe place to go.”

Mohammed Madi, who is a doctor, has been displaced several times since he was forced to leave his home in Gaza City.

Dr. Mohamed Madi
“I will die here before I leave,” Mohammed Madi told Al Jazeera (Sanad Agency/Al Jazeera)

“If the occupation follows through on its threats to invade Rafah, it will be a disaster,” Madi told Al Jazeera.

“Still, I won’t leave Rafah because where will we go? The rest of Gaza is destroyed. I will die here before I leave,” she said.

“We call on Arab countries… to make a decision and end this genocidal war against Gaza,” Madi said.

On December 29, South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, arguing that it is carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people, a term that many have used to describe Israel’s war against Gaza.

Journalist Alaa Salameh, a Rafah resident who has covered the war across the Strip, said he will continue reporting from the city despite Israeli threats.

“The Israeli army carried out countless massacres throughout the Gaza Strip. If he invades Rafah, he will do the same,” Salameh told Al Jazeera.

Journalist Alaa Salameh
Journalist Alaa Salameh is from Rafah but has traveled through the Gaza Strip to cover the war (Sanad Agency/Al Jazeera)

“The occupation does not follow international law. If they invade Rafah, there will be no safe place,” he continued. “There needs to be global pressure to prevent this potential crime from occurring.”

He noted that Israel has already killed thousands of Palestinians in airstrikes on Rafah in recent months.

Haifaa Mohammad Abdelhamid Saleh was forced to leave her home in Gaza City and came to Rafah. “We left on October 14. “We didn’t want to leave Gaza City or our homes, but the Israeli occupation told us we would be safe if we did.”

“We hope they do not invade Rafah. If they do, there will be a humanitarian disaster, not only among the refugees but also for the residents of the city,” Saleh said.

“They burned everything in Gaza. “They want to take revenge on the resistance in Gaza.”

Haifaa Mohammad Abdelhamid Saleh
Haifaa Mohammed fears a massacre among refugees in Rafah (Sanad Agency/Al Jazeera)
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