If the Israeli tanks keep coming, “we will be left with two choices: stay and die or climb the walls into Egypt”, said Emad, 55, a businessman and father of six. “Most of Gaza’s population are in Rafah. If the tanks storm in, it will be a massacre like never before.”
Israeli defence minister Yoav Gallant said late on Thursday that troops would now turn to Rafah. “We are achieving our missions in Khan Younis, and we will also reach Rafah and eliminate terror elements that threaten us,” Gallant said.
As the only part of Gaza with access to the limited food and medical aid trickling across the border, Rafah and nearby parts of Khan Younis have become a warren of makeshift tents. Wind and cold weather have added to Palestinians’ misery. The UN says rescuers can no longer reach the sick and wounded in Khan Younis, and the prospect of combat reaching Rafah is almost unthinkable. “Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair, and we fear for what comes next,” Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, said.