The Israeli military has intensified its operations in the southern Gaza Strip, with heavy tank and machine-gun fire reported as troops entered Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis. The occupants were ordered to evacuate earlier in the day, and the situation quickly escalated into chaos.

The military claims this operation is based on “credible information” of Hamas fighters hiding in the facility, which Hamas denies, calling the allegations “lies.” Israeli forces prevented medical staff from treating the wounded, according to reports.

The city of Rafah, once designated a safe zone, now witnesses an exodus as Israel’s military escalates airraids and artillery fire. The city is supposed to provide safety to approximately 1.4 million Palestinians in tents and makeshift shelters.

World leaders from Australia, New Zealand, and Canada have condemned Israel’s actions, urging the nation to heed the international community’s call to spare civilians from the devastating toll of the conflict.

Since 7 October, Israel, with unconditional financial and material support from the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany and other western governments, has killed at least 28,663 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and wounded 68,395 others. With the Israeli attacks in Rafah, the Palestinian civilian death toll is expected to rise even further. Since the beginning of Israel’s attacks on Gaza until now, the White House has maintained that it would not be drawing any “red lines” for Israel but rather continue supporting their security needs. Despite the mounting Palestinian death toll, the United States has consistently blocked every attempt at the United Nations to impose a ceasefire.

The United Nations humanitarian agency, OCHA, reported widespread displacement, with individuals forced to flee multiple times in the four-month conflict. Many displaced Palestinians are heading to Deir el-Balah and the Nuseirat refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip, further straining the region’s resources.

UN aid chief Martin Griffiths warns of a potential crisis if a military operation in Rafah forces Palestinians into Egypt, emphasising the illusory nature of evacuating to a safe place within Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has declared an intention to fight until complete victory, including a decisive action in Rafah. Netanyahu, who is accused of forcing Palestinians out of Gaza, earlier ordered civilian population to leave battle zones before military operations. However, he faces criticism for lacking a clear evacuation plan, particularly for the sick and elderly.

International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Head Mirjana Spoljaric warned that if the Israeli operation intensifies as announced, the civilian suffering could reach unimaginable depths.