Reports: Airstrikes begin shortly after an evacuation order was issued.

by Connor Echols, Responsible Statecraft

Israel has begun launching airstrikes in Rafah ahead of a likely invasion of the city, where more than 1.5 million Gazans have taken shelter in camps near the border with Egypt.

The airstrikes came just hours after the Israeli government told Palestinians to flee the city, a demand that aid groups fear will worsen the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza, where famine has begun to take hold. The European Union’s foreign policy chief called the evacuation order “unacceptable.”

Palestinians look for survivors after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah refugee camp, southern Gaza Strip, on October 12 2023

The apparent decision to invade Rafah comes as ceasefire talks broke down over the weekend. Israel says the logjam came after an alleged Hamas attack on Israeli soldiers at the Kerem Shalom crossing, while Hamas blamed the breakdown on Israel’s decision to start evacuations of Rafah.

The possibility of an Israeli assault in Rafah puts President Joe Biden in a precarious position. The White House has already found itself at odds with many Democrats due to Biden’s refusal to break with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his deadly campaign in Gaza. A bloody escalation of the war would further divide his party and ratchet up pressure to do something to stop Israel’s campaign.

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