From Southern Gaza City to Rafah: Israel’s Supposed “Safe Spaces” Have Become Centers of Massacres

Since the escalation in fighting between Hamas and Israel in October of last year, Israeli forces have killed at least 31,923 people in Gaza, including more than 13,000 children.

Throughout the different stages of the conflict’s development, Israeli forces have repeatedly designated different areas as safe zones, only to proceed later on to target Palestinians heading specifically towards these supposed safe areas.

In the last few weeks, Israeli forces have repeatedly bombed the so-called “safe zone” of Rafah, where over a million Palestinians were displaced. Today, Israeli forces said that 90 people were killed in one of their many raids on Gaza’s al-Shifa hospital.

Last week, Israeli forces targeted a food distribution site run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) in southern Gaza, bringing the total number of UNRWA members killed during the last five months to 165.

A Repeated Trend of (Un)Safe Zones

Since October 2023, Israeli authorities have designated several zones as safe areas for Palestinians to move to.

During the first few weeks after October 7, Israeli authorities called on Palestinians in Northern Gaza to move to the South of the Strip. However, Israeli forces proceeded to open fire on migrating Palestinians, and to later target other areas in southern Gaza, trapping Palestinians eventually in Rafah.

A recent report by Forensic Architecture – which calls into question Israel’s argument at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that it introduced measures to safeguard civilian life in Gaza – found that evacuation orders issued by Israeli authorities have “produced mass displacement and forced transfer, and contributed to the killings of civilians throughout Gaza.”

The study also found that Israeli authorities’ evacuation orders have facilitated “displacement, fatalities, and genocidal acts” against Palestinians in Gaza, and that incorrect and vague instructions led to “cartographic terror”, sowing confusion and panic among Gaza’s displaced.

Earlier, Israeli forces operations repeatedly targeted a number of supposedly safe areas, such as a series of air attacks that hit a mosque and homes in Deir al-Balah in early February, killing dozens of people sheltering there, four strikes in Rafah that killed 95 civilians, continued operations on southern Gazan cities, and more recently the massacre at al-Shifa hospital and the ongoing campaign on Rafah, among many other cases.

A Set of Repeated Lies

Since Operation al-Aqsa Flood, Israeli authorities have repeatedly spread information that was later proven to be false, be it the claims that certain areas in Gaza are safe zones, media-catching lies around 7 October, claims that UNRWA is affiliated to Hamas, or others.

Despite a constant trend of spreading false information, several Western countries have continued to act as if such claims were true, with many countries retracting funding from UNRWA, or condemning Palestinian actions that did not take place.

As matters stand, many countries and politicians have indeed shifted stances and have changed their position. Indeed, many countries who previously supported Israel have now taken a confrontational stance, while others have chosen to cut their relations.