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5:49 PM ET, February 9, 2024

“We'll have nowhere to go.” Palestinians in Rafah live in fear as Israel vows to enter the southern city

From CNN's Eve Brennan and Abeer Salman

Mohammed Jamal Abu Tour speaks with CNN on February 9 in Rafah, Gaza.


Palestinians in Rafah told CNN they would have nowhere to go if Israel entered the city in southern Gaza, which is close to the border with Egypt.

“We pray to God that what happened in Gaza City does not happen in Rafah – because if it happens in Rafah we have nowhere to go,” Mohammed Jamal Abu Tour said on Friday. “Where are we going? To Egypt? Whether they will welcome us or not, God only knows.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ordered the army to plan to “evacuate the population” from Rafah, his office said in a statement. On Thursday, Israel Defense Forces said they would “soon enter Rafah, the last stronghold of Hamas”.

Mahmoud Khalil Amar, a displaced person from Al Shadi refugee camp in northern Gaza, said he was staying in a tent near a cemetery in Rafah.

“I'm basically sleeping next to the dead,” he said. “It feels like hell, I feel all the pain, we're not alive, the dead are better than us,” he said. “They are resting, but for us, our life is torture, we don't have water, we don't have money, the situation is very bad, people who had a stable job and income are suffering now. The situation is terrible.”

Abu Mohamed El-Helw, a displaced person from Khan Yunis, said people in Rafah had “nowhere” to go unless they “open the borders and let us out”.

El-Helv said the people were “tired of war” and “accustomed” to Israel's threats.

According to the United Nations, more than 1.3 million people are believed to be in Rafah, the majority displaced from other parts of Gaza.

CNN's Mick Grever contributed reporting.

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