On Tuesday morning Israel bombed the Rafah crossing in the Gaza Strip, which is the only border crossing that Palestinians are able to use to flee to Egypt.
Hamas has claimed that the crossing has now been rendered impassable. "The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday afternoon that it hit an underground tunnel for smuggling weapons and equipment in the Rafah area, on the Egypt-Gaza border, but did not confirm or deny hitting the crossing itself," the Times of Israel is reporting.
After demanding that Palestinians leave Gaza, the Israeli army is now bombing and reportedly killing civilians attempting to escape through the Rafah crossing to Egypt. This is hardly the first time it’s done this. pic.twitter.com/RKKUEXS3WQ— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) October 10, 2023
Israel's military (the IDF) reportedly conveyed a warning to Gazan officials just minutes before it was bombed. Also, the Egyptian side operating the crossing was warned just before the airstrike.
The Rafah bombing has caused international outrage given that in the hours and days prior, the Israeli government has repeatedly told Palestinians in Gaza to flee because massive airstrikes will continue. Many have wondered, but where do they go?
The Rafah crossing is essentially the only possibility of escape for Gaza civilians. The Washington Post has noted, "the Gaza Strip is just over twice the size of Washington, D.C., but has triple the population" - at around 2.3 million people.
The IDF has meanwhile tried to walk back some earlier statements which told Palestinians to go to Egypt:
Earlier in the day, a senior IDF spokesman advised Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to flee to Egypt, but the military issued a clarification shortly afterward.
“In recent days, the IDF has been instructing the population inside of the Gaza Strip to distance themselves from designated areas. We emphasize that there is no official call by Israel for residents of the Gaza Strip to exit into Egypt,” the IDF said in an English-language statement.
It’s like an earthquake, driving through the Gaza City southern neighborhood, the scale of destruction is staggering pic.twitter.com/IVrkFs9bVL— Rushdi Abualouf (@Rushdibbc) October 10, 2023
In the Gaza Strip, the death toll continues to soar as mostly civilians are experiencing the brunt of the retaliation after the Hamas terror campaign of the last days, with the the Palestinian health ministry saying the number of people killed has risen to 830, with 4,250 wounded, as cited in Al Jazeera.
Total blackout in Gaza as Israel has declared full siege...
ℹ️ Update: Metrics show further declines in internet connectivity in #Gaza as Israel launches counterstrikes following an offensive by Hamas; operator Paltel anticipates a total blackout if any further international routes are damaged 📉 pic.twitter.com/c7DRYkluKV— NetBlocks (@netblocks) October 10, 2023
Hospitals in Gaza are also reportedly overwhelmed, as gruesome scenes of wounded and dead men, women, and children continue to come out of the war-ravaged strip.
Rhetoric out of Israeli officials has continued to dehumanize all Palestinians in the strip, in an attempt to provide cover for the mass bombing campaign of militants and civilians alike...
JUST IN: A military commander from Israel likening Hamas to ISIS and expressing frustration at the situation. The statement also conveyed a belief that the conflict had escalated.— Mario Nawfal (@MarioNawfal) October 10, 2023
"Hamas has become ISIS and the residents of Gaza are celebrating. Human animals are treated… pic.twitter.com/yHqiauJPQU