The conflict in Gaza has escalated after the murder of more than 1,160 civilians by Islamist militants. In response, Israel launched a devastating campaign of bombing and ground operations against Hamas, resulting in the death of mainly women, children and adolescents. The Islamic extremist movement Hamas warned about the severe consequences of an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, the last refuge for Palestinians displaced by the war in the territory. Tens of thousands of people could be killed or injured in the city according to Hamas. Witnesses reported bombings in the surrounding areas of Rafah.
The city is home to 1.3 million Palestinians, more than half of the total population of Gaza, and the vast majority of them are refugees who fled the Israeli offensive in other areas of the Strip. The Hamas Health Ministry reported intense fighting at Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis and Al Amal hospital in Rafah was raided by Israeli forces. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for a plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah, but there are concerns that this may lead to a humanitarian catastrophe if civilians are forced to evacuate without a safe place to go. The United States, European Union and UN have all warned about this possibility.
On diplomatic front a “new cycle of negotiations” began in Cairo with aim to obtain greater access to humanitarian aid for Gaza and exchange hostages held by Hamas with Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. This conflict also exacerbated tensions between Israel and its allies such as Lebanon, Iraq Syria and Yemen where Iranian-backed groups have attacked on behalf of Hamas prompting retaliation from Israel and its allies which further aggravates situation making it harder for diplomats to find solution for this long-standing problem