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Dire warnings grow for Israel ahead of targeting Rafah

Warnings advising Israel not to enter the populated city of Rafah in Gaza are continuing to mount as Israel prepares to expand its offensive.

Israel ordered evacuations last week ahead of an anticipated invasion of Rafah — a city in southern Gaza that is home to the largest refugee camp for Palestinians fleeing the war. It is estimated that more than 1.4 million people are staying in Rafah amid the ongoing conflict.

Now, world leaders are calling on Israel to not enter Rafah. President Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a phone call Sunday that no military operation in Rafah should proceed “without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there.”

CNN reported that Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned Israel of “very serious repercussions” if their forces target Rafah.

“The Kingdom affirms its categorical rejection and strong condemnation of their forcible deportation, and renews its demand for an immediate ceasefire,” the ministry said in a statement, according to the outlet.

Two Egyptian officials and a Western diplomat said Egypt threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if Israel forces were sent into Rafah, The Associated Press reported. European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, that an offensive into Rafah “would lead to an unspeakable humanitarian catastrophe and grave tensions with Egypt.”

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said an Israeli operation into Rafah “cannot proceed” in an interview with NPR.

“And that would dramatically exacerbate the humanitarian emergency that we’re all seeking to alleviate right now. Israel has an obligation to ensure that civilians, that their civilian population is safe and that they’re secure and that they have access to humanitarian aid and to basic services,” she continued.

Israel struck Rafah last week after the U.S. warned  against expanding the war to the overcrowded city. State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said last week that moving into Rafah “with no planning and little thought in an area where there is sheltering of a million people would be a disaster.”

Biden also said last week that Israel’s response in Gaza was “over the top” — a comment dismissed by Netanyahu during an interview on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. Netanyahu also said those warning against entering Rafah “are basically saying lose the war.”

The Associated Press contributed

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