Israel bombs Rafah

Amid tense hostage negotiations, conflict continues.
While millions of Americans sat in their living rooms watching the Super Bowl, Israel launched a destructive bombing campaign in the Gaza Strip targeting Rafah, where more than half of Palestine’s population resides. During the breaks between drives, viewers watched an advertisement from the Israeli Government to drum up stateside support for Israeli military operations. The ad ended with, “To all the dads held in captivity by Hamas for over 120 days, we vow to bring you home.” This ad was possible because Israel’s defense budget receives billions from the U.S., with over $263 billion over 78 years.
Palestinians experienced a massacre in Rafah. The term “#SuperBowlMassacre” was coined by X users in response to the event. Rafah was already one of the most densely populated areas on Earth, but the consistent bombing of Gaza City has led more people to seek shelter in Rafah. According to a Feb. 4 Congressional Research Service report, 1.7 million people have been displaced from their homes in the Gaza Strip. On Feb. 11, they were targeted in a brutal campaign, where it is already difficult to find food and water.
Recently approved in the Senate and awaiting the House was $14 billion in aid to the Israeli government in a $95 billion relief bill supported by President Joe Biden. Israel also receives more than $3 billion every single year from the United States for defense, according to an Aljazeera article. The conflict has brought about debate on Biden’s ability to bring peace to the region with his doubling down on Israeli support and funding. This issue will continue to be important with impending elections.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated Israel’s intent to proceed with a ground invasion of Rafah despite international pressure in a press conference on Saturday, Feb. 17. Concurrently, the largest anti-government protest in Israel erupted in Tel Aviv where the conference took place, with demonstrators calling for Netanyahu’s resignation. They criticized the government’s handling of various issues, including the conflict and judicial reforms from before the war started.
In an article published by the New York Times, it was reported that Egyptian officials have expressed no intention of receiving Palestinian refugees and continue to strengthen their border, going as far as to build a 6-foot wall at the border between Gaza and Egypt. This creates a dire situation for those residing in Rafah. The Foreign Minister of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry, did state that they would provide “the humanity that is necessary” and “support to innocent civilians.” Israeli officials ended the press conference with the insistence that the ground invasion of Rafah must be underway to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens.
As reported in the New York Times, Israel cites the destruction of tunnels between Egypt and Gaza and the attempt to root out Palestinian militants as the contributing factors for a ground invasion of Rafah. One critical detail that was lacking from the expressed plan was the evacuation methods for civilians in the area.
Another outspoken critic of Israel’s actions in Gaza, as reported by ABC News, is South Africa, which started a formal trial with the High Court of the United Nations to declare the war in Gaza a genocide. With the recent events in Rafah, South African lawyers have lodged an urgent request with the International Court of Justice to declare that Israel is breaking previous orders from the court. The U.N. has already put protections in place for civilians, but South Africa argues Israel is breaking those with the attack on Rafah. Choosing to ignore these provisional orders could add additional evidence to the case that Israel is breaking the Genocide Convention. Israel refutes this and has called South Africa’s request “highly peculiar and improper.” Israel has stated that they are doing all they can to save civilian lives but that Hamas’s tactic of embedding themselves into civilian areas has made this hard. This is shown as over 28,000 Palestinians have been killed and 68,000 injured over the four-month-long conflict, according to a Congressional Research Service report.

Post Author: Grant Doolin