For days, the mainstream media has struggled to thread a fine line from the reality in the Gaza Strip city of Rafah, where 1.4 million Palestinians have been in refuge, to the official statements of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who “brush[ed] aside a chorus of international condemnation” in moving forward with invading Rafah as part of attacking Hamas. It was where to find Hamas, he maintained, and Israel would find a solution for those who needed to evacuate. In the months of Israel’s military campaign against Palestine, in which over 28,000 Palestinians have been killed and scores of thousands injured, Rafah’s population has ballooned from 280,000 to 1.4 million.
On February 9, the Associated Press reported from Rafah, speaking to Jihan al-Hawajri, who has reportedly relocated several times from north of the city to flee the violence, and is now living with 30 relatives in one tent. “We’re exhausted," al-Hawajri told the AP. "Seriously, we’re exhausted. Israel can do whatever it wants. I’m sitting in my tent. I’ll die in my tent.”
On Sunday night, February 11, Israel launched its ground campaign in Rafah while Americans watched the Super Bowl and President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign posted memes (even launching a TikTok account). On the morning of February 12, Amnesty International put the death toll from Rafah at a minumum 95 people, “nearly half of them children.” Israel celebrated the retrieval of two Israeli Argentine hostages, who are said to be in good condition.
The media has reported Biden’s disapproval of Netanyahu’s war strategy, but the Senate continues with a $95 billion bill that would send more US military money to Israel, in addition to Ukraine, which will receive the bulk of the funding, and Taiwan. Biden was congratulated by some for attaching “human rights conditions” for civilians to that bill this past Friday, though there’s no word yet on Biden’s response to the overnight events in Rafah. As noted by the BBC, since 1950, Israel has received more military aid from the US than any other nation.
On February 12, the foreign policy chief of the European Union, Josep Borrell, seemingly replied to Biden’s comments on Netanyahu’s strategy, telling reporters, “Well, if you believe that too many people are being killed, maybe you should provide less arms in order to prevent so many people being killed…. If the international community believes that this is a slaughter, that too many people are being killed, maybe we have to think about the provision of arms.”
That same morning, The Guardian reported that the Dutch government would not be sending fighter jet parts to Israel “after a Dutch appeals court ruled that there was a ‘clear risk’ that the planes could be used to violate international humanitarian law.”
Chantal Da Silva of NBC News reported from the region that “an NBC News crew that has been working on the ground in Gaza since the start of the war described the bombing in the area of Shaboura camp of Rafah as a strikingly violent and deadly assault.” Photos of bloodied bodies and people grappling in the aftermath of the bombing have covered news site pages and social media.
Meanwhile, the US is blocking funding to the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which continues to provide support on the ground in Palestine, after the organization announced in January that it had “fired or suspended 12 employees who allegedly participated” in the October 7 Hamas attack that killed a thousand Israelis and resulted in about 200 hostages being taken. Though the US intends to redirect the aid money through an alternate source such as UNICEF, this past week a UN official told The Times of Israel that to replace UNRWA as the primary source of aid in the area would lead to humanitarian disaster.
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue
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