As Israel advances towards Rafah, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reiterates the urgent call for a sustained ceasefire. Military operations in Rafah will significantly disrupt aid transfers from Egypt and prevent aid agencies from delivering even the most basic services to the Palestinian people who were told by Israel they would be safe there. Living under relentless fear, anxiety, and stress, and lacking food, water and healthcare, Palestinians will have nothing left to aid their survival. If Rafah meets the same fate as Gaza City and Khan Younis, all parts of Gaza will be destroyed - alongside any lifeline of hope and survival for Gazans.

Bob Kitchen, Vice President of Emergencies at the IRC, said:

“Military operations in Rafah will result in the displacement of more than a million Palestinians and risk death, destruction and injury for tens of thousands of people. More than half of Gaza’s 2.2 million population are seeking refuge in Rafah, with the majority residing in temporary shelters, tents, or exposed to the elements. Within the last 48 hours, airstrikes on residential zones in Rafah have killed at least 11 Palestinians, two of them children. If Israel expands its operations further south, it would mean the renewed forced displacement of more than a million people who have nowhere left to go; and it would end the humanitarian lifeline from Egypt.

“If they aren’t killed in the fighting, Palestinian children, women and men will be at risk of dying by starvation or disease. There will no longer be a single “safe” area for Palestinians to go to as their homes, markets, and health services have been annihilated." 

The IRC urges an immediate halt to the fighting, and for all parties with influence to exert it and bring about a sustained ceasefire. Only a ceasefire will protect civilians and enable the level of humanitarian scale up needed to save lives. 

The International Rescue Committee launched an emergency response to the humanitarian situation in Gaza in late 2023 and is supporting partners to deliver food, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals, and provide critical services in emergency shelters including cash assistance and psychosocial support.