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Israel Told Palestinians to Evacuate to Rafah — then Bombed Them

After instructing civilians to evacuate south, Israel has bombed the southern border city of Rafah. It’s not about eradicating Hamas — it’s ethnic cleansing.

Sou Mi and Otto Fors

February 12, 2024
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Aftermath of Israeli bombing of Rafah, Gaza.

Since Israel began its bloody siege on Gaza in October, the Netanyahu regime has repeatedly forced the Strip’s residents to evacuate southward to so-called “safe zones.” Each time, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) bombed these areas until Palestinians found themselves literally at the southern border with Egypt in the city of Rafah. Last night, while Americans were watching the Superbowl, Israeli forces launched strikes on the southern city. 

Over 1.5 million Palestinians are currently sheltering in Rafah, more than five times its pre-war population of just 270,000. People are packed into tents and dependent on whatever little aid passes through from Egypt to stave off famine, with many having escaped Israeli bombardment several times already. Now, at least 67 Gazans have been killed by IDF strikes on the city — the very place they were told to evacuate to. 

Israel claimed that the aim of the offensive was to rescue two elderly Israeli-Argentinian hostages. But the Zionist state is planning a more extensive ground invasion, as Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that the IDF aims to, “get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah.”

But the significant escalation in Rafah isn’t about “defeating Hamas.” The bloody siege on Gaza, in which the IDF has killed over 28,000 Palestinians and displaced the majority of the population, is about exterminating Palestinians from the land in order to expand the settler colonial Zionist state. Israel is committing genocide and ethnic cleansing, with the backing of the United States and other imperialist countries. 

Yet while Israel continues its genocidal campaign, millions across the world are standing in solidarity with Palestine. Thousands of students, journalists, and professionals have risked censorship and repression to show which side they’re on. In the United States, unions like the UAW, the AFT, and AFL-CIO — the country’s largest union federation — have passed ceasefire resolutions in response to mobilizations in the street and militant, rank-and-file organizing. 

To be sure, these labor organizations need to go further. They have endorsed Israel’s chief ally, Joe Biden, for president, and still maintain ties to the Zionist state by, for example, buying Israeli government bonds. And despite progressive calls for a ceasefire, the unions emphasize the need to work towards one of the Biden regime’s key policies: the farcical two-state solution

We can’t place our faith in political regimes that have supported to Zionism for decades, and are providing material support for the genocide unfolding in Gaza. For all of Biden’s tepid, private denunciations of the Netanyahu regime, the United States and its allies give diplomatic cover to Israel and continue to repress and persecute those who protest in solidarity with Palestine. 

As the past few months have shown, our strength lies in the streets, uniting all sectors of the movement — from the multi-generational Arab communities that have taken to the streets, to the anti-Zionist Jews organizing civil disobedience actions, to the workers fighting for ceasefire resolutions in their unions, to the radical youth taking the fight in the schools and universities. 

To the leaders of our unions and our movements, we must demand to sever all ties with Genocide Joe and the Democratic Party, and organize our full power against the Zionist state of Israel, against the complicity of U.S. imperialism, and to shut it all down for palestine. 

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Sou Mi

Sou Mi is an activist based in New York City.

Otto Fors

Otto is a college professor in the New York area.

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