Adel al-Hajj fears Israeli forces could at any moment launch an “invasion” of southern Gaza’s Rafah city, where he and more than a million other Palestinians have fled for safety.
Teeming with displaced Gazans huddled in makeshift camps, Rafah has swelled to about five times its pre-war size since fighting between Israel and Hamas, Gaza’s ruling terror group, erupted following the October 7 massacre in southern Israel.
The city is one of the few areas spared an Israeli ground offensive thus far, but Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week he had ordered troops to “prepare to operate” there.
Hajj, from Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, now lives in a tent in Rafah.
An Israeli military push into the city could “end in massacres” of the hundreds of thousands trapped on the besieged territory’s border with Egypt, he says.
Umm Ahmed al-Burai, a 59-year-old woman also from Al-Shati, is camping with her four daughters and three of her grandchildren close to an unfinished Qatari hospital in the west of Rafah.
“We first fled to Khan Yunis, then to Khirbat al-Adas,” gradually heading south before reaching Rafah, she says.
If troops advance of Rafah, Burai says she fears “there will be massacres, there will be genocide.
“I don’t know whether we will be able to flee to Egypt, or whether we will be massacred.”