International News Report

‘All Eyes On Rafah’: Israel Pounds Southern Gaza

'All Eyes On Rafah': Israel Pounds Southern Gaza

Israel launched an airstrike on Rafah late Sunday, following a barrage of rockets from Hamas aimed at the Tel Aviv area, which were mostly intercepted. The attack targeted a tent camp housing displaced people, resulting in the tragic loss of at least 45 lives and injuries to 200 others, according to CNN and the Gaza government’s media office.

Israeli forces pressed their assault on the border town – once seen as the territory’s last refuge despite an order last week from the top UN court to halt its operation there. The Gaza Health Ministry reported that since October 7, Israel’s military offensive has claimed the lives of at least 35,984 Palestinians and injured 80,643.

Currently home to hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians from all over the Gaza Strip, Rafah came under Israeli ground and air offensive on Sunday despite widespread international concern over civilian casualties. The attack also left several tents on fire, which then swept through the area, killing more people.

A fuel tank explosion triggered by an Israeli airstrike was responsible for the fire,
Amidst this, the phrase “All eyes on Rafah” is trending on social media, highlighting global support for Palestinians in the beleaguered city of Rafah. Iran’s Embassy in India emphasized the dire situation, referring to the ongoing violence as genocide and noting that over 1.4 million Palestinians were seeking shelter in Rafah.

What is All Eyes On Rafah:

All eyes on Rafah” is a phrase gaining traction on social media, highlighting the severe humanitarian crisis in Rafah, Gaza. This call for global awareness has garnered widespread support, with numerous celebrities sharing messages under the hashtag #AllEyesOnRafah.

What the image depicts of “All Eyes On Rafah”:

As visuals of charred bodies and those with severe injuries emerged on social media, an image with text, “All Eyes on Rafah”, started trending. The campaign, spearheaded by activists and humanitarian groups, aims to draw attention to the southern city of the Gaza Strip, where people have been forced to live in cramped refugee camps with no humanitarian aid.

As reported by NBC, The image might be one of the first artificial intelligence-generated viral activism pictures. According to Marc Owen Jones, who studies misinformation, the image “looks” like it was created by AI. Not looking very real, having odd shadows, and the tent camp being unnaturally symmetrical are some of the signs that it’s an AI-generated image.

The image has been shared over 29 million times on Instagram in less than 24 hours.

Rafah, once a major entry point for humanitarian aid, has been heavily impacted by Israel’s intensified military offensive. The recent fighting has displaced over 1 million Palestinians, many of whom were already affected by the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Palestinians in Gaza report feeling unsafe regardless of their location, leading to continuous movement within the region. Israeli forces had previously urged residents in northern Gaza to evacuate, which led to mass migrations to the central region and the southern city of Khan Yunis. Consequently, hundreds of thousands fled to Rafah. The health ministry in Hamas-controlled Gaza stated that Israeli shelling has severely damaged health facilities in Rafah, leaving only one operational.

Despite international disapproval and an order from the International Court of Justice to cease its military operations, Israel continues its airstrikes in the region. In a symbolic gesture, Spain and Norway officially recognized the Palestinian state on Tuesday, May 28, with Ireland potentially following suit.

Rafah, the southernmost exit from Gaza bordering Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula, has seen a massive influx of people fleeing violence. However, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has warned that there is no truly safe place in Gaza amid the ongoing conflict. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) announced on Tuesday via X that they had lost full communication with their team in Gaza, describing the area as “hell on earth.”

On Sunday, an Israeli airstrike in southern Rafah targeted and reportedly killed two senior Hamas operatives. However, the strike also sparked a fire, resulting in numerous casualties and drawing widespread condemnation from Palestinians and many Arab nations, who called it a “massacre.” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday referred to the strike as a “tragic mistake.”

Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron posted on X, “Deeply distressing scenes following the airstrikes in Rafah this weekend…We urgently need a deal to get hostages out & aid in, with a pause in fighting to allow work towards a long-term sustainable ceasefire.”

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The Israel-Hamas conflict that broke out in Gaza in October last year resurrected the debate over Palestinian statehood in international politics. Israel claims that the attack by Hamas demonstrated how its security would be compromised by the existence of an independent state on its border.

One diplomatic development that has attracted a lot of interest is Palestine’s renewed application for membership of the United Nations (U.N.). Ironically, its quest is stuck at the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) due mainly to the geopolitical calculations of the U.S., which argued that membership should follow and not precede a negotiated solution to the long-standing conflict.

This is not the first time that Palestine has attempted to obtain U.N. membership. In 2011, too, the veto-bearing U.S. in the UNSC opposed its request. Since then, Palestine has enjoyed only non-member observer status.

This year, in April, after the UNSC failed to agree on Palestine’s request because of the lone veto cast by the U.S. in its capacity as a permanent member, the U.N. General Assembly (UNGA) stepped in to voice support for the Palestinian application. On May 10, the UNGA overwhelmingly adopted a resolution affirming Palestine’s eligibility to assume full membership in the U.N. It also urged the UNSC to favourably consider Palestine’s request.

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