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The Hilltop


Palestinian Place of Refuge Attacked by Israeli Air Forces

Israeli airstrikes in Rafah have caused further displacement and casualties among the Palestinian population.

This dilapidated building encompasses the reality of many Palestinians who continue to advocate for their safety. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Giudice/Flickr)

Over the last five months, Israeli airstrikes have killed 31,000 citizens in Gaza, with approximately 13,000 deaths comprising children, according to Reuters

Since Oct. 7, many U.S. citizens have been advocating for an immediate ceasefire and humanitarian aid for the remaining citizens left in Gaza. Despite calls for justice under international law at the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ), Palestinians have not received guaranteed safety and shelter throughout this conflict.

“In these past five months, Israel has massacred Palestinians with bullets, missiles and bombs. Now they are escalating to the use of another weapon – hunger,” Ben Zinevich, an organizer for the Washington, D.C., branch of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, told The Hilltop

“Israel is looking to break the resistance of Palestine by any means necessary, no matter the illegality, immorality or inhumanity,” Zinevich said. 

In February, South Africa charged Israel with genocide and apartheid against the Palestinian people at the UN’s highest court at the Hague. In the first case of its kind, between Feb. 19-26, approximately 52 countries presented arguments on draconian Israeli policies in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem.

The case includes the largest number of parties to participate in any single ICJ case since the court was established in 1945. According to NBC, the city of Rafah, which was once deemed as a safe space for Palestinian refugees who experienced displacement due to airstrikes and famine, was bombed last month on Feb. 11.

Over 1.4 million Gazans have sought refuge in the 141 square mile city, which had an initial population of about 280,000 people. 

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“This is and has always been a war against the Palestinian people. Israel’s plan is to bury us or push us out as we have just seen with the Rafah bombing. There is literally nowhere else for us to go,” Palestinian journalist Motaz Azaiza, said in an interview with the Guardian.

On March 13, the Israeli military confirmed that it had coordinated strikes on an aid warehouse in Rafah in southern Gaza, declaring it had “precisely targeted” and killed Hamas commander Muhammad Abu Hasnain, as reported by The New York Times. The UN declared that the attack also killed at least one aid worker and injured 22 others.

The Israeli military identified Hasnain as “involved in taking control of humanitarian aid” and coordinating “the activities of various Hamas units.” Israel permitted a convoy delivering food aid to enter northern Gaza from an Israeli crossing for the first time throughout the war, due to international pressure to let more aid into the territory, according to The New York Times.  

The bombing of the aid warehouse in Rafah took place before the United Nations’ World Food Program announcement that it had delivered food aid for 25,000 people to Gaza City in its first successful convoy since Feb. 20. Miles away, American citizens have their opinions on the decreasing amounts of resources and land that Palestinians have available to them.   

“I truly believe this has been the plan ever since the attack in October of 2023. Rafah was always supposed to be a safe zone and now all of a sudden it’s not,” Samir Flamer, a freshman political science major from Charlotte, North Carolina, said.

Israeli attacks on Gaza have continued to increase since the conflict began, but the attack on Rafah has many people wondering what the  Palestinian people will do next. The Associated Press reported that the remaining Palestinians are starting to consider entering Egypt, which borders the city.  

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Despite Egyptian sympathy, many Egyptians are hesitant to welcome Gazans. According to NPR, Egyptian president, Abd el-Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi, has been in opposition with Hamas, which was born out of the Muslim Brotherhood that once controlled Egypt. 

There is a fear that if Egypt welcomes Palestinian citizens, Israeli air forces will begin to attack Egypt to retaliate against Hamas. Onlookers are continuing to advocate for Palestinian people, like freshman photography major Camdyen Tate.

“I think people are starting to lose hope because despite all that everyone is doing, people are still getting bombed,” Tate said. “But it could also cause more of a sense of urgency to get officials to call for a ceasefire.”

With little food, water and places to go, members of the international community continue to stand in solidarity and support the Palestinian people. 

“Since 1948, the zionists have failed to break the spirit of Palestinian resistance, and this will not differ in the present moment,” Zinevich said. “Hundreds of cities have mobilized and brought out millions of people globally with a united voice standing with Palestine, and showed that the movement is not wavering or dying, but actually continuing to grow.”

Copy edited by Alana Matthew

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