25 July, 2024
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War on Gaza: Israeli forces ‘destroy’ Rafah crossing’s departure hall


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War on Gaza: Israeli forces ‘destroy’ Rafah crossing’s departure hall

Destruction of only exit point for Palestinians with Egypt could mean crossing won’t be operational soon

MEE staff

The Rafah border crossing pictured on 7 May (AFP)

Israeli forces have torched and destroyed facilities at the Rafah crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, including halls used for arrival and departure, according to local officials and media reports. 

“Occupation forces damaged Rafah crossing’s halls that were used by locals to exit the Strip,” the Gaza-based government media office said in a statement on Monday.

Pictures shared online, which were not verified by Middle East Eye, showed what appears to be the exterior of the crossing’s departure hall incinerated. 

Damage to the crossing, the only non-Israeli exit point for Palestinians with the outside world, may make it inoperational in the near future, leaving Gaza’s 2.2 million Palestinian population trapped inside.

The destruction of the crossing comes as Israeli forces continue their attacks on Rafah, including the Philadelphi Corridor area, a demilitarised buffer zone that runs along the Gaza Strip’s border with Egypt.

The Israeli ground invasion of Rafah, which started on 6 May, has left entire neighbourhoods flattened amid ongoing air strikes and razing of property and homes.

The operation forced one million internally displaced people to flee the city to other areas in the central Gaza Strip. 

Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October have killed nearly 37,350, wounded over 85,000 and left an estimated 10,000 missing, likely dead and buried under rubble.

The attack on Rafah and the seizure of the crossing with Egypt deepened an already perilous humanitarian crisis, with vital aid routes, through the Rafah and Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossings, blocked.

The Gaza government media office called for an urgent opening of crossings with Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to reach Palestinians in the northern parts of the strip.

This follows reports that famine-like conditions are prevalent across Gaza, especially in the northern cities and towns. 

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Earlier in June, a report issued by an independent group of experts known as the Famine Early Warning Systems Network, or Fews Net, warned that it is possible Gaza has suffered famine since April, and this assessment is likely to continue until July at least, “if there is not a fundamental change in how food assistance is distributed and accessed” after it enters the strip.

More than 8,000 children under the age of five in Gaza suffer from acute malnutrition, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

The Israeli military announced “tactical pauses” on Sunday along a key road in Rafah to facilitate aid delivery, but later backtracked and said operations there would not stop after coming under pressure from the government. 

The Gaza government office said talk of “tactical pauses” was “an Israeli lie”. 

Unrwa chief Philippe Lazzarini said Monday that the Israeli military announcement has not led to any changes on the ground, with hostilities continuing across Gaza.

Israeli forces ‘destroy’ Rafah crossing’s departure hall

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