Israeli Military Continues Shelling Rafah After Securing Buffer Zone

The Israeli military has intensified its offensive in Rafah, continuing heavy shelling following the recent takeover of the strategic buffer zone between Gaza and Egypt. Israel also blocked humanitarian aid at the Rafah border crossing

by Sededin Dedovic
Israeli Military Continues Shelling Rafah After Securing Buffer Zone
© Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

Residents of Rafah said today that the Israeli military is shelling that city in the southern Gaza Strip and that intense gunfire can be heard, as the Israeli military announced that it controls the strategic buffer zone between the Palestinian territory and Egypt.

Despite international condemnation of Sunday's deadly Israeli attack on a camp for displaced people in Rafah, which killed 45 people, the Israeli military continues its airstrikes and ground offensive on the overcrowded city, launched on May 7 with the stated goal of eliminating the last Hamas battalions.

Following the start of military operations in the eastern part of the city, the army advanced westward, displacing about a million people in three weeks, according to UN data. Most of them have been displaced again to areas that are already overcrowded in this besieged territory.

The Israeli military said today that it targeted 50 locations across Gaza in recent days. Artillery fire was heard in Zeitoun in Gaza City in the northern Strip, said journalists from AFP. Israeli forces also targeted Beit Lahia and the Jabalia camp, eyewitnesses said.

The military confirmed that its personnel were attacked in Jabalia, and that an aircraft targeted armed men, killing two. In central Gaza, Palestinians buried relatives killed in an overnight attack in Nuseirat, an AFP journalist reported, while children watched the rubble of a building.

In Rafah, witnesses said intense shelling and gunfire could be heard in the center and west. Many people are fleeing from the western part of the city, from where at least four bodies were taken to Nasser Hospital after the attack.

On Wednesday evening, the army announced that it had taken control of the 14-kilometer-long Philadelphia corridor, a buffer zone on the border with Egypt along the southern Gaza Strip near Rafah, in recent days. Israeli military spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the corridor serves as an oxygen pipeline for Hamas, regularly transporting weapons to the Gaza Strip.

He added that terrorist infrastructure was found east of Rafah, stretching one and a half kilometers and about 100 meters from the crossing. Egypt denies the existence of tunnels under the border and claims that Israel seeks to justify its offensive in Rafah.

Cairo and Jerusalem also accuse each other of blocking humanitarian aid through the Rafah border crossing, the only one between the Palestinian territory and Egypt, since the Israeli military took control of the Palestinian side in early May.

The Ministry of Health in Gaza called today for all crossings to be opened to allow the evacuation of the sick and wounded. Rafah is crucial for the entry of aid desperately needed by the residents of Gaza, devastated by almost eight months of war, while the UN and NGOs constantly warn of the danger of famine.

Aid convoy trucks wait at the Rafah border crossing© Mahmoud Khaled / Getty Images

Israel's National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi said on Wednesday that the war could continue for another seven months to achieve the goal of destroying Hamas, which led Palestinian extremists in an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7 last year.

Europe is increasingly supportive of the Palestinians

The Slovenian government decided today to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state and sent the decision to parliament for confirmation, Prime Minister Robert Golob said in Ljubljana.

After the government session, Golob said that the two-state solution model - Israel and Palestine - is "the way to achieve peace" and that his cabinet's decision "is not directed against anyone." Slovenian Parliament Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič announced that the National Assembly will discuss the government's decision to recognize the Palestinian state on Tuesday, STA reports.

The decision must first be considered by the Foreign Policy Committee of the National Assembly, which will meet on Monday. If the parliament confirms the government's decision, it will complete the process of Slovenia's recognition of the Palestinian state.

Former Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, president of the nationalist Slovenian Democratic Party, criticized the government for its decision to recognize Palestine 10 days before the European Parliament elections, accusing it of "exploiting dead Palestinian children for political purposes." The Slovenian government initiated the process for recognizing the State of Palestine on May 9 and announced that it would send the decision to the National Assembly by June 13 at the latest.

Golob said at the time that recognition is only the first step in the search for a long-term solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and that Slovenia, as a responsible member of the UN Security Council, is obliged to do everything to establish lasting peace in the Middle East.

This week, Palestine was recognized by Spain, Ireland, and Norway, joining the group of 140 countries that had done so previously. If the National Assembly confirms the government's decision, Slovenia will become the tenth of the 27 EU member states to recognize Palestine.

The situation in Rafah remains catastrophic, but Israel does not relent in its "actions" despite worldwide condemnation and Israel's popularity being at an all-time low in history.