Families of Israeli Soldiers: Rafah Is a 'Death Trap'

Israel looks poised to launch full-scale offensive despite lack of support
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 14, 2024 12:51 PM CDT
Families of Israeli Soldiers: Rafah Is a 'Death Trap'
Displaced Palestinians arrive in central Gaza after fleeing from the southern Gaza city of Rafah in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, on Thursday, May 9, 2024.   (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana, File)

Israel continues to face pressure to call off its offensive into Rafah, the southern Gaza city host to one million sheltering Palestinians—now from the parents of more than 900 of its own soldiers.

  • 'Deadly trap': With forewarned "forces on the other side actively preparing to strike," the offensive is a "deadly trap" for their "physically and mentally exhausted" children, the parents write in a letter addressed to Israel's defense minister and military chief.

  • Macro: "The letter was initially signed by the parents of about 600 soldiers but in recent days the parents of another 300 have signed it," per the Guardian.
  • Micro: The Rafah operation shows the military has "no clear plan," the mother of an Israeli special forces soldier tells the Guardian. She says support for the war has waned as Israel has withdrawn from areas only to have Hamas move back in.
  • What's the point? Another mother says "we are not against the mission to fight Hamas, but entering Rafah does not justify this mission." US officials are also questioning whether Israel's stated aim of destroying Hamas can truly be achieved, CNN reports.
  • US opposition: The Biden administration has for months warned Israel against attacking Rafah and this week threatened to withhold arms shipments if the IDF proceeds, per CNN. But Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu has remained defiant, painting Rafah as a last Hamas stronghold in need of cleansing.

  • Any moment: Israel has now amassed enough troops on the edge of the city to launch a full-scale invasion, US officials tell CNN, noting preparations for the Palestinians sheltering in Rafah are severely lacking.
  • Nowhere to go: After warnings from Israel, an estimated 360,000 to 500,000 Palestinians have fled the once-refuge city over the last week, the Guardian reports. But as one mother clutching her young child tells NBC News, "There are no safe areas at all."
  • At the UN: South Africa, which accuses Israel of genocide in Gaza, has called on the UN's International Court of Justice to stop the Rafah offensive and allow investigators to move in. South Africa will make its case before the court Thursday and Israel on Friday. But these cases can linger for years, per Reuters, and then there's the minor issue of the UN having no enforcement mechanism.
(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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