Through the intense bombardment of Khan Younis Israel wants its 1.5 million displaced people that came to assemble here to continue to move further south to Rafah on the border with Egypt.
And you can guess why? Eventual exodus maybe!
United States Vice-President Kamala Harris said Washington will not allow under any circumstances the evacuation of Palestinians from Gaza and the occupied West Bank.
That is maybe assuring, but the Israelis don’t want to hear that and/or not listening for their government and military, have it on their lips: Palestinians from Gaza should be transferred to the Sinai Peninsula. In fact, there is a whole debate in Israeli society and its establishment that this is a credible way of getting rid of what they call the Gaza problem.
And they are beginning to do it. Since the restarting of the war on Gaza – and they are bombing the south and continue to strike the north as well, an area they supposed to have finished from but apparently not – they are now militarily leashing out at different neighborhoods of Khan Younis and telling its people to keep moving to “safe areas”. But they know, there are no such places in Gaza thanks to them.
At the beginning of the war, when they started bombing the north, this is what they told people: Keep moving south if you want to stay safe. But now Khan Younis, a city of over 200,000 and now bulging at the seams, is no longer safe but deadly with houses struck night and day, with people killed, sleep or awake. Now also, the Israeli army are telling people to keep moving if they want to stay alive.
But the reality is Khan Younis was never safe, even in the first part of the conflict that lasted around six continuous weeks and killed just under 15,000 people and around 30,000 injured. The city always faced danger.
In the beginning of the war, Israel tried to paddle such words as transfer and exodus, but these were quickly dampened because of the opposition they created from the United States, Egypt and Jordan. But now with the ceaseless and senseless mass bombing – 700 people were killed in the first three days of the war – such semantics are becoming common currency again.
All of Khan Younis, the second largest city in the Gaza Strip and includes Al Amal neighborhood and Al Hamad residential city, are being bombed mercilessly. Further around it, are the town and villages of Beni Suhaila, Muraj, Al Qarara, Al Fukhari, Abbassan, Khuza’a. They are also subject to bombardment to get people on the move further south to Rafah and keep the pressure on.
But as Rafah is a much smaller city, the population explosion would be so much, that the Israeli may face a further dilemma: If they continue to bomb them, and create even larger massacres to force them to the Egyptian side of Rafah, which is not at all inevitable because Cairo would refuse to open the crossing, the Israelis face again the annoyance of the US. Its officials are making it clear they wouldn’t accept transfer.
And already there is underlaying tension between them, although they always seek to paper out the difference outwardly.
Not to close!
While a close friend of Israel, it had repeatedly warned the government and military on the bombing of Palestinian civilians. Vice-President Harris said once again: “President Biden and I have also been clear with the Israeli government in public and in private many times: As Israel defends itself, it matters how. The United States is unequivocal: International humanitarian law must be respected. Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.”
But the problem here is this: Israel, as usual continues to play the “Hamas terrorism card”. It had already explained Khan Younis is a city that has Hamas operatives, and therefore, should be bombed. Further, they are saying these operatives and fighters are embedded within the population and telling everyone their bombing is legitimate.
However, this time their paddled views maybe taken with a pinch of salt as the Biden administration is under a lot of pressure, domestically and internationally to rein in Israel which had been saying Gaza hospitals were used as Hamas bases and had bunkers underneath them. It turned out to be that these were false flags and a figment of the Israeli imagination.
Israel must be forced to listen, otherwise the transfer issue would soon become real under the guise of the world. Three days into restarting its self-declared war it started its ground war operations on Khan Younis which means it’s deadly serious about its continual displacement of people further south and eventual tip over into Egypt.
But this won’t be as easy as it sounds, because the Israeli army is bogged down in different parts of Gaza especially in the north and north west as well as east and is facing much resistance and human and material losses by Izz Al Din Al Qassam fighters. Getting involved deeply in the south as will maybe too much to handle for the Israeli military as they are already admitting.
Marwan Asmar, who has a Phd from the UK’s Leeds University, has long worked in the field if journalism in Amman, Jordan.