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ActionAid calls urgently on the international community to act: Rafah residents are plunged into fear and panic as attacks intensify and a full-scale invasion looms.


People in Rafah have been left terrified and panicked as airstrikes on the city intensify, thousands flee, and aid delivery is disrupted. Near continuous shelling in some parts of the city has left dozens dead or injured: medics at the Kuwaiti Hospital, in western Rafah, said they had received the bodies of 35 people killed and 129 wounded in the last 24 hours alone, according to Al Jazeera. 
Thousands of people – including some of our colleagues and partners – are fleeing after evacuation orders were issued for the eastern part of the city on Monday, yet there is nowhere safe for them to go, nor do areas which have been designated as ’safe zones’ have the infrastructure or capacity to receive them. Al-Mawasi, for example is already hugely overcrowded with more than 400,000 people living there, according to UNRWA.  
In Rafah, fears are growing that the already dire humanitarian situation is about to get a lot worse as aid delivery and distribution is disrupted by the ongoing military activity. No aid entered via Gaza’s two key crossings at all yesterday, according to a joint briefing note by NGOs, and while the Israeli military said the Kerem Shalom had reopened today, the Rafah crossing – which was seized by the military on Monday – remains closed. With much of the population facing catastrophic levels of hunger, any reduction in aid risks pushing people further towards famine. Fuel, which is essential for hospitals and for trucks to be able to distribute aid within Gaza, is already running dangerously low, according to UNOCHA. We call for the Rafah crossing to be reopened immediately.   
Amjad Al Shawa, who is based in Rafah, is the director of the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO), an umbrella organisation of 30 Palestinian NGOs and a partner of ActionAid Palestine, which works in Gaza. In a voicenote message, he told ActionAid about his fears regarding the situation in Rafah: "We have serious concerns regarding the military land operation in Rafah and the Israeli control of Rafah crossing...we warn [against] famine and these continuous Israeli [military] attacks on the Palestinian civilians. At the same time the shortage of medication, food items and other needed items, which will lead to [further] deepening of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.’ 
“We are calling urgently on the international community to act in order to stop such a military incursion and the Israeli [military’s] massacres on the Palestinian people and to open all the crossings for the passengers and for different humanitarian and commercial items. Also, mainly for the patients and the injured people who are in bad need [of] medical treatment outside the Gaza strip as this will lead to [deteriorating] their health conditions.” 
Riham Jafari, Advocacy and Communications Coordinator at ActionAid Palestine said:  
The ongoing military offensive in Rafah is already having a devastating impact on its residents, thousands of whom have been forced to flee for the fourth, fifth, sixth time or more time in seven months. The number of deaths and injuries is rising and the humanitarian situation is worsening as aid delivery is disrupted 
“If the Israeli military continues with a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah, it will be full blown disaster. There is no doubt that an unthinkable number of men, women and children will die. It would be indefensible to order the evacuation of more than a million people from the area when there is nowhere safe for them to go, nor with the capacity to receive them. Any attempt to do so may well amount to forcible transfer  a grave violation of international humanitarian law. 
We call on the Israeli authorities to abandon this catastrophic plan and demand that all states do everything in their power to prevent a military assault in Rafah. The international community has repeatedly warned that this cannot be allowed to take place. Now is the time to act.  
“As negotiations resume today, reaching a ceasefire is of the utmost importance: it is the only way to put an end to the killing and ease the horrific humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” 
About ActionAid    

ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 41 million people living in more than 71 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.