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Rafah: More than one million Palestinians in the line of fire

A statement from MSF-USA executive director Avril Benoît on the imminent offensive in Rafah

A displaced Palestinian family inside their tent in the southern Gaza town of Rafah’s Al-Shaboura neighborhood.

Palestine 2024 © MSF

Avril Benoît, executive director of Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) delivered the following statement today:

For four months, MSF teams have worked tirelessly in Gaza. The world has watched as relentless airstrikes, artillery fire, tanks, snipers, and soldiers have pushed Palestinian civilians further and further down the Strip.

There are now more than 1.5 million people trapped in Rafah, a town at the southernmost tip of Gaza.

They have nowhere else to go.

Conditions in Rafah are dire: Many families have been displaced multiple times and have few belongings. They are sheltering in flimsy and unheated tents, with little access to water, sanitation, food, or health care. Tens of thousands of people continue to pour into Rafah from neighboring Khan Younis, where intense fighting continues.

The government of Israel announced that a full-scale assault on Rafah was imminent, leaving more than a million people in the line of fire. Our staff and patients are terrified.

Rafah isn’t just the last refuge for most of Gaza’s population—it is the only remaining hub of health care services and humanitarian assistance on the strip. More than 28,000 human beings have already been killed in Gaza. A military offensive in Rafah will kill and injure even more and destroy the only support that people have left.

Rafah is the end of the line. There is nowhere else to flee. Even if displaced people return north, they will find no homes to go back to, and no supply lines to bring in food, water, medicines, or any other essentials.

The consequences of a full-scale assault on Rafah are truly unimaginable. We cannot stand by and wait for this to unfold.

A ceasefire in Gaza has never been more urgent.

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