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05.28.2024

Gaza: Rafah Ground Offensive Turns Catastrophic

Israeli attacks in Rafah have resulted in a sharp rise in civilian casualties in areas that had been deemed safe humanitarian zones. On Sunday evening, an Israeli airstrike and resulting fire killed 45 people and injured over 200 in a displacement camp near Tal Al-Sultan in Rafah. The majority of those killed were innocent civilians, including children and infants. Chaos erupted as people desperately searched for loved ones and sought emergency medical care. Today, Israeli attacks hit tent encampments in an evacuation zone of Al-Mawasi, killing 21 people. As of Monday, the Kuwaiti Hospital in Rafah has closed due to staff casualties and increased attacks nearby, forcing people to travel to already overburdened hospitals in other areas. 

Over the past two days, a team of trauma and emergency care specialists from the Jordanian Health Aid Society International (JHASi), supported by Project HOPE, saw a surge of patients seeking emergency treatment for injuries from the airstrike in Rafah at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah. With hospitals near Rafah overwhelmed or rendered inoperable, many were forced to make the 45-minute drive to Deir al Balah for treatment. Patients required immediate care for life-threatening shrapnel wounds and severe burns, and, tragically, some did not survive emergency surgeries due to the severity of their injuries and long delays in receiving medical treatment. 

Rabih Torbay, CEO and President of Project HOPE, said: 

“Our worst fears for innocent civilians in Rafah trapped with nowhere to go have become a horrifying reality. The ground offensive and escalating airstrikes in Rafah, combined with attacks on health care and severely limited aid, have turned an already catastrophic humanitarian situation into an unimaginable nightmare of suffering. 

Words fail to convey the sheer horror of Sunday’s attack in Rafah, which can only be described as an inhumane massacre. Israel has a legal and moral obligation to protect civilians and uphold International Humanitarian Law. My colleagues at Al Aqsa Hospital, who have worked around the clock for over six weeks, watched countless patients die on the operating table from unsurvivable wounds.  
 
I am outraged and saddened that two health workers lost their lives in overnight airstrikes at Rafah’s Kuwait Hospital, proving again that nowhere in Gaza is safe. 

As more and more terrified families flee Rafah with no safe place to go, the urgent need for tents, cash, food, medical care, and clean water continues to multiply. Those who survive the onslaught of violence continue to face the very real prospect of death by hunger, dehydration, untreated injuries, and other preventable conditions. 

The international community must act decisively. We demand an immediate and permanent ceasefire, the release of all civilian hostages, and a massive scale-up of humanitarian aid through land crossings into Gaza. Condemnation from world leaders is not enough – we need concrete action to stop this nightmarish descent into further unconscionable suffering and loss of innocent life.” 
 
Project HOPE is actively supporting Palestinian communities affected by the conflict. Our team in Gaza is operating health clinics in Deir al Balah and Khan Younis, and previously in Rafah before the ground invasion began. We have emergency and trauma medical staff providing care at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir Al Balah through our partner JHASi. Project HOPE has provided mental health support through local partners and has distributed family hygiene kits, mattresses, and blankets to our partner ANERA. We have prepositioned additional medical supplies that are still awaiting entry into Gaza.  

For Media Inquiries: Contact bjustus@projecthope.org (WhatsApp: +1 503-764-7864) or media@projecthope.org  

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