Palestinians sheltering in crowded tent cities along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt were fearful on Tuesday after a senior Israeli minister reiterated that Israel’s ground invasion would extend to Rafah, the southernmost city in the enclave where hundreds of thousands of displaced people have ended up.
The statement by Defense Minister Yoav Gallant has left Palestinians — many of whom are exhausted from relocating multiple times and sleeping in tents in cold and rainy weather — uncertain about where to seek safety. It was at least the second time in recent days that Mr. Gallant vowed to make such an advance.
“We’re terrified,” said Rajab al-Sindawi, a 48-year-old secondhand clothing salesman from Gaza City. “We’ve been running away from death, moving from place to place, but now we’re at the border. Where should we go?”
Mr. al-Sindawi, his wife and their seven children arrived in Rafah in early January after moving several times in search of safety.
While the army considers Rafah its next operational target, the security establishment needs to complete more planning before sending ground forces into the area, said an Israeli official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to communicate with the media.
Entering Rafah will be “extremely complicated,” the official said, noting that security officials were taking into account Egyptian sensitivities about Israeli forces operating near the border, as well as the enormous civilian population.
Thank you for your patience while we verify access. If you are in Reader mode please exit and log into your Times account, or subscribe for all of The Times.
Thank you for your patience while we verify access.
Already a subscriber? Log in.
Want all of The Times? Subscribe.