Monday, May 27, 2024

U.N. officials have warned about the increasing pressure near Gaza’s border with Egypt as tens of thousands of Palestinians attempt to flee Israel’s military campaign.

Gazans have been moving to the area in search of safety and supplies. Thousands are continuing to arrive, following evacuation orders from Israel’s military that have designated parts of Rafah, the region next to the crossing, as a place to find refuge. However, Israel is expanding its ground operation in the south.

But relief is scarce. Humanitarian officials have raised concerns about “extreme” overcrowding and a “dire” situation in the border area. They have also warned about the spread of disease, saying that it could drive Palestinians to seek refuge in Egypt, two U.N. officials cautioned on Sunday.

“The health care system in Gaza is collapsing,” stated U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres during an event in Qatar on Sunday, adding that there is “no effective protection of civilians in Gaza.”

Philippe Lazzarini, the commissioner-general of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, also stated that while there might not be a “deliberate policy,” Israel’s military operations are putting additional pressure that is likely to lead to a breakdown.

Gazans who fled to the Rafah area hoping for safety have also faced airstrikes.

“We have no other place—and no safe place,” said Ziad Obeid, a senior civil servant for the Palestinian Authority, who mentioned that he had moved to the outskirts of Rafah with his family after being displaced since the start of the war.

The Israeli government has not publicly called for a large number of Gazans to move to Egypt. Egypt has declined the idea, fearing that the country could be destabilized by an influx of refugees.

Egypt’s army has taken measures to fortify the border at Rafah in concern of a potential breach.

In 2008, tens of thousands of Palestinians crossed into northern Egypt, forcing a temporary end to the Gaza blockade – a result of Hamas breaking down parts of the border fence.

Patrick Kingsley and Nada Hussein contributed reporting.

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