Either victory or martyrdom: Gazans vow to stay in Rafah
Palestinians seeking refuge in Rafah from across the besieged territory have vowed to stay in the southern city despite the imminent Israeli onslaught.
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More than one million people have fled to the southern Gaza city amid the October 7-present war that has so far killed around 28,000 Palestinians, mostly women, children, and adolescents.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the Israeli military on Friday to prepare to evacuate civilians from Rafah ahead of a planned ground operation against the city. Aid organizations, however, say such a move will be nearly impossible to fulfill, given the scale of devastation elsewhere in Gaza, and the huge numbers of people trapped in the besieged area.
In a statement on Saturday, Palestinians in the city asserted that "we will not leave Rafah under any circumstances. We have decided to either die here or return to our homes victorious when the war has stopped."
"We will not leave Rafah. And we will die standing tall. Either victory... or martyrdom," they said.
"On behalf of every displaced person and on behalf of the people of Rafah, we call on all world powers to act forcefully to curb the aggression, stop the massacres, and prevent the Rafah catastrophe."
Philippa Greer, head of Legal Office at UNRWA, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, in the Gaza Strip, meanwhile, posted on X, underlining the appalling humanitarian condition in the city.
"1.4 million people are amassed in deteriorating conditions, many displaced multiple times," she said, underlining that "the population has already endured intolerable pain, suffering, hunger & fear," and noting that the city suffered from "acute shortages of shelter, clean water, food & medicine."