What happens in Rafah, why is it important in the Gaza Strip and Israel's attack

On Sunday 26 May, following the launch of some missiles by Hamas towards Tel Aviv, the IDF (the Israeli Defense Forces) bombed and caused a vast fire in the refugee camp Tal as-Sultanin the north-west of the city of Rafahin the southern part of the Gaza Strip: the toll was 45 civilian victims Palestinian Arabs (including several children) e more than 200 injuredwhich raise the Arab-Palestinian civilian death toll to more than 36,000. In addition to this, defined by Netanyahu and the Israeli military forces as an accident, the attacks have also intensified in the last few hours. attacks on Rafah by land, putting into practice what had been a plan announced by the Israeli government and opposed at diplomatic level by the USA and the UN. THE Israeli tanks they nevertheless entered Rafah, arriving close to the Al Awda mosque, almost in the center of the city.

At the same time, for security reasons, Israel currently does not allow trucks containing humanitarian aid to enter through the Rafah crossing (the border crossing with Egypt), beyond which more than a million and a half of displaced people are living without access to basic necessities such as water, food and medical supplies. The hospitals are unusable and theUN declared that the Palestinian Arab population is on the brink of famine. This tragic situation has led international public opinion to remain focused on the area, with social phenomena such as the viral Instagram story “All eyes on Rafah”.

Attention: the Israeli-Palestinian issue is extremely complex and delicate and we are aware that any type of summary risks omitting information; therefore this article and the associated video must be seen in the context of the contents that we have proposed and will propose in the coming days. We therefore invite you not to miss them: you can find everything in the Israel-Palestine War category of our site. Please know that our aim is to make people understand the geopolitical situation with maximum neutrality and stimulate interest in further insights.

What is the Rafah crossing and where is it located

The Rafah crossing is a border crossing located betweenEgypt and the southern Gaza Strip. The pass passes through the city of the same name Rafah, to 30 km south of Gaza, and cuts the city into two almost equal parts: one Egyptian and one Arab-Palestinian. Most of Rafah's residents are Palestinian Arab refugees, living inside the refugee camps used following forced displacement from the north of the Strip.

The Rafah crossing was created after peace treaty between Egypt and Israel of the 1979: conceived as a neutral zone to connect the two countries, from 1982 to 2005 it was managed by the Israeli military forces, and only from September 2005 did it come under the control of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Currently, the pass And controlled by Israeli military forces who at the beginning of May took control of it, declaring that it was being used for terrorist purposes by the Hamas militias.

The Rafah area in red, on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. Credits: Tubs.

Because Rafah is an important crossing

Since last October and in particular in the last few days, Rafah has been at the center of media and international attention for two main reasons. First of all it represents theonly crossing point between Gaza and Egypt and, in a broader sense, lthe only access point to Palestine also for all other countries other than Israel.

In fact, besides Rafah they exist two passes to enter the Gaza Strip: the crossing Erez which is located at North of Gaza and which is accessed from Israeli territory and the crossing of Kerem Shalom, to the south between Israel, Egypt and the southern Gaza Strip. This crossing was mainly used for the passage of commercial products. Both were closed following the attacks on October 7, despite the fact that in recent months both the United States and the UN have urged Israel to allow humanitarian aid to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing. Rafah is therefore currently the only access and exit point from Gaza, which is completely isolated.

Another important point is that the Rafah crossing it is used to bring people into the Gaza Strip humanitarian aid hey basic necessities for the Arab-Palestinian population who emigrated from the north of the Strip to the south, in what Israel had declared a safe area, a term used during conflicts to indicate the areas where civilians can find shelter and protection and which are not considered of attack. Currently this aid is not being let through.

Fire at the Tel Al-Sultan refugee camp in Rafah. May 26, 2024. Credits: CNN

The draft resolution of the UN Security Council

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has convened a meeting extraordinary meeting at the request of theAlgeria, following the tragic nature of what happened in Rafah. Algerian Ambassador to the UN Amar Bendjama presented a draft resolution to ask for the cease fire immediately in the Gaza Strip, with the release of Israeli hostages into the hands of Hamas and asking Israel to immediately stop the military offensive on Rafah. The text of the resolution, according to the Associated Press, defines “the situation in the Gaza Strip as catastrophic, constituting a threat to regional and international peace and security.” He also underlines the risk of famine that is developing throughout the Strip and strongly condemns the attack indiscriminate killing of civiliansincluding women and children, asking for the respect for international humanitarian law. The draft will be examined by members of the UN Security Council and voted on in the coming days.