Israel shrugs off UNSC bid to ‘stop the killing’ to continue Rafah assault

Israeli tanks penetrate the centre of Rafah and air attacks persist across the city despite global calls to end the carnage.

Smoke rises following Israeli strikes during an Israeli military operation in Rafah on May 28 [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Israel has continued its assault on Rafah, ignoring a draft resolution to the UN Security Council to “stop the killing” in the city in southern Gaza.

New air attacks were reported across the southernmost city on Wednesday morning, hours after witnesses and a Palestinian security source said Israeli tanks had penetrated the heart of Rafah.

“People are currently inside their homes because anyone who moves is being shot at by Israeli drones,” resident Abdel Khatib said.

Israeli air strikes targeted various parts of the city, including the vicinity of the Badr camp and the Zourob roundabout west of the city, according to Palestinian news agency Shehab.

A complete shutdown of telecommunications and internet services throughout Rafah is also reported.

“The military now has control over the Philadelphi Corridor and is advancing deeper into the remaining part of the corridor – to the western part of Rafah city.”

Al Jazeera’s Hani Mahmoud, reporting from Deir el-Balah, said that Israel “continues to herd people from one place to another” amid the attacks.

Previously, as it attacked targets in northern and central Gaza, Israel’s military had designated Rafah as a safe zone. That drove more than half of the enclave’s 2.3 million population to the city.

Now, close to one million people are reported to have left Rafah as the Israeli assault maps out. Israel’s allies have warned against the attack on the city, citing the risk of civilian casualties and the building humanitarian crisis.

“Those who have been told to stay in al-Mawasi evacuation zone to avoid being bombed are finding themselves on the move again, seeking shelter elsewhere. But there is no safe place in a war zone. Bombing is taking place everywhere, not only in Rafah, but also in Khan Younis and in the rest of the Strip,” Mahmoud reported.

“The shelling has extended to the vicinity of the Kuwaiti Hospital, which is completely out of service. All of Rafah’s field hospitals, with the exception of one, are also out of service,” he added.

US President Joe Biden has joined the calls for Israel to refrain from launching a major military operation in Rafah. However, his administration insisted on Tuesday that Israel has not yet crossed its red lines.

“We have not seen them smash into Rafah,” said National Security Council spokesman John Kirby.

A civil defence official in Gaza said an Israeli strike on a displacement camp west of Rafah on Tuesday killed at least 21 people.

Israel’s army rejected allegations that it had carried out Tuesday’s strike in a designated humanitarian area.

“The [Israel army] did not strike in the humanitarian area in Al-Mawasi,” the army said in a statement, referring to an area that had been designated for displaced people of Rafah to shelter.

‘Stop the killing’

A similar strike over the weekend that killed 45 set off global outrage and prompted Algeria to call an emergency UN Security Council session on Tuesday evening.

The North African state used the meeting to present a draft resolution calling for an end to Israel’s offensive in Rafah and an “immediate ceasefire”.

The draft referenced last week’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering Israel to immediately halt its military assault on the city.

Algeria’s UN ambassador Amar Bendjama said following the meeting of the 15-member UN security body on Gaza that the aim of the move was to “stop the killing in Rafah”. Algeria is a council member for 2024-25.

The council was scheduled to discuss the issue again on Wednesday. Diplomats suggested a vote could come within days. However, the United States has vetoed three previous bids to secure a resolution demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies