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Why Would Rafah’s Attack Be Unimaginably Severe?

Golani Junction, Israel – February 7, 2022: The Golani soldiers in uniform during an army ceremony in Israel. (iStock, Getty Image by Wirestock)
Golani Junction, Israel – February 7, 2022: The Golani soldiers in uniform during an army ceremony in Israel. (iStock, Getty Image by Wirestock)

Israel waited long enough. Finally, on May 6, 2024, the 213th day of the Israel-Hamas war, Israel began the Rafah invasion, which is expected to be unimaginably severe.

The people of Israel had hoped that Hamas would come to the negotiation table and release the hostages. Since October 7, the relatives of the hostages have been waiting to see their loved ones. 

Unfortunately, their hopes were not fulfilled, and they see no possibility of the hostages’ return without an invasion of Rafah.

Have you ever been to a war? Have you heard stories of soldiers who had no hope of survival except through victory?

Many of you may not have such experiences with the severity of a real war, so it may be difficult to comprehend how cruel it can be. But remember that massacres are even more severe than wars. Did you see the footage from October 7?

I have such experiences of the cruelty of massacres. I grew up in the Chittagong Hill Tracts in Bangladesh. I know what the October 7 massacre was like. I remember how a clear blue sky turned dark with the black smoke of burning homes. I understand the terror of running amidst flying bullets.

I saw the Panchari Massacre in 1986. I saw the Naniachar Massacre in 1993. I also saw the Baghaichari massive communal attack on Jumma indigenous villages in 2010. 

Honestly, the October 7 attack makes me remember all these terrible massacres, and I understand why Israel is desperate to destroy Hamas at any cost.

Sadly, I have had terrifying experiences. I ran for my life like a marathon, like a marathon which decides winning means living, and losing means dying.

But now consider the opposite scenario: having no chance to escape, facing the inevitable war. If you win, you live; if you lose, you die.

Israel, its people, and its forces are in such a situation. Israel cannot escape from Hamas, nor can Israeli forces cease fighting. They must defeat Hamas, and Rafah is the last battlefield. Israel has no option but to win to survive.

If Hamas wins, will destroy Israel, which is their goal. Israel can never allow to give Hamas such an opportunity.

Despite lacking support from its Western allies, Israel was compelled to begin its invasion of Rafah. Even its closest ally, the USA, did not offer support.

The reason is Israel understands the severe implications of being defeated and conquered by Hamas, whose unimaginable cruelty was exposed on October 7. Israel is determined to protect its citizens. Israel had no option but to invade Rafah.

On the other hand, Hamas miscalculated Israel’s response. Hamas thought that the International Criminal Court, encampments at schools, colleges, and universities, or flooding support in Western countries would pressure Israel. Hamas’s strategy failed. Now, Hamas must fight its final battle.

The Israeli forces and Hamas are in a dire situation—one fighting to survive, the other determined to destroy a nation. 

Of course, we all know that Hamas does not care about civilians and routinely uses human shields. They take refuge behind women and children and establish bases in hospitals, schools, colleges, and universities.

Israel had to fight against Hamas. At the same time, it had to save civilians. Think how hard it was for Israeli forces in Gaza and Khan Yunis. No doubt, the same will happen in Rafah.

Meanwhile, Israel has a chance for an easy victory in Rafah compared to the central Gaza City. The operation will not be as challenging as in Gaza City.

The tall buildings and complex layout of Gaza City made it hard for military operations to proceed smoothly. These buildings, along with underground tunnels, offered Hamas plenty of places to hide, which made it harder for Israeli forces to control the area without a lot of experience in city combat and additional resources.

Another reason was the dense environment, which also made it tricky to carry out air and artillery attacks, raising the chances of harming civilians and requiring more soldiers on the ground.

On the other hand, with fewer tall buildings and more temporary shelters, Rafah will be easier to plan and employ heavy equipment, likely offering fewer hiding spots for fighters. 

However, the area’s high population density, exacerbated by many displaced persons, may complicate Rafah’s military operations. The large number of civilians restricts the use of heavy weaponry and demands more careful and precise tactics to minimize civilian casualties.

The positive aspect is that civilians in Rafah have already begun evacuating.

The positive aspect is that civilians in Rafah have already begun evacuating. Of course, no one can say that Hamas will not use tactics like human shields used in Gaza City or Khan Yunis. It may recur in Rafah, too.

Once again, the people may think that Israel does not care about the lives of Rafah civilians. I do not agree with them. Honestly, I believe Israel does. Israel cares about them, no doubt, and that is why Israel is asking civilians to evacuate.

Otherwise, what option does Israel have?

Please allow me to ask two questions before thinking about options.

Suppose Israel stops fighting now, considering civilian casualties, and Hamas survives. 

  • Do you think Hamas will stop massacres like October 7 or will not try to destroy Israel from the world map?
  • If Hamas does not stop and tries to destroy Israel, when should Israel fight against Hamas?

I know you do not have these answers. 

But we all know Hamas will launch thousands of rockets at Israel, repeating the October 7 massacre until it destroys Israel. No solution without war. Then why wait? Is it not the right time for Israel and Gaza people to fight against Hamas?

Nevertheless, let’s hope the civilians stand against Hamas for the sake of their lives and leave Rafah. I understand the suffering of the children and women, but Israel will not cease until Hamas is eradicated. 

Israel must liberate itself and the Gaza Strip from Hamas. If Hamas remains, neither the people of Israel nor those in Gaza will be able to live peacefully. So, it is clear that no matter how severe or hard, the Israeli forces will fight and destroy this last stronghold of Hamas in Rafah.

About the Author
Purna Lal Chakma is from Chittagong Hill Tracts, Bangladesh, one of the most persecuted Christians. He studied M.Th. and has 14 years of experience pastoring in an Islamic-majority country like Bangladesh. He is an experienced person about how radical Islamists see Christians and Jews. He also knows how Islamists think about Israel. Now, he is just a simple travel blogger in Tokyo.
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