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Why is Israel attacking Gaza? Israel’s deadly attacks explained.

On Sunday evening, dozens of people hiding in the city of Rafah were killed in an Israeli strike. The attack hit an area Israel has designated as a safe zone and came just two days after the International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah.”

More than seven months after Israel launched a war on the Gaza Strip aimed at destroying Hamas and freeing hostages captured in the group’s brazen attack on October 7, all eyes are focused on the southernmost city in the territory from which more than a million Palestinians have fled, trying to escape the ongoing Israeli offensive. If it wasn’t clear before, it can’t be denied now that the more than a million people crammed into tents in Rafah, seeking shelter from death and injury, are not safe.

Israel’s relentless offensive in the Gaza Strip has created an increasingly tense dynamic in relations with one of its biggest allies.

Sunday’s strike also raises a question: Is this a red line that President Joe Biden has warned Israel not to cross? And if not this deadly attack, then what could qualify?

The Rafah border crossing on the border with Egypt makes the city an important strategic point for the flow of goods and aid, as well as an evacuation point for Gazans trapped in the territory during Israel’s continued brutal attack. The Rafah crossing has been closed to both people and aid for months after Israel seized and closed a vital lifeline for Palestinians and aid workers, detaining doctors and aid workers as well as people fleeing Israeli attacks .

Now Israel’s relentless offensive in the Gaza Strip has created an increasingly tense dynamic in relations with one of its greatest allies, the United States. Biden, once steadfast in his support for Israel and its right to defend itself, expressed concern about the ongoing aggression and warned that the United States would stop providing aid and weapons to Israel if it launched a ground offensive on Rafah.

There are other signs that Israel has squandered much of its American goodwill. More than 50 members of Congress have opposed the financial aid package for Israel, and some are now openly calling on Biden to stop sending to Israel all offensive weapons, such as those used against Palestinians in Gaza. Meanwhile, at the United Nations, the General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to grant Palestine greater rights and privileges.

Israel ignoring Biden’s calls not to invade or launch a large-scale attack on Rafah could undermine America’s standing on the international stage. A full military invasion of the city will be the strongest signal yet of the United States losing control of its vassal state in the region.

And if Israel’s all-out military invasion of other areas of the Gaza Strip is any indication, Sunday’s strike could be the beginning of even more violence to come. In Gaza City, for example, an Israeli ground invasion ended with an attack on Shifa Hospital, where it said Hamas had its command and control headquarters. To gain entry to the campus, which is located in a densely populated neighborhood, Israel razed buildings and entire city blocks to clear a path for its soldiers, leading to scenes of unimaginable carnage and a staggering death toll.

As Palestinians, aid workers and UN officials have been saying for months, there is no longer a safe place to go. The so-called humanitarian zone that Israel has ordered the Palestinians to move to is literally open, barren land with no sewage, shelters, hospitals, infrastructure, aid or food.

Outrage continues to grow over Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s reluctance to agree to a ceasefire agreement that will bring the hostages home. The longer this war continues, the longer Netanyahu remains in office. It is widely expected that when the war ends, so will his term.

Palestinians in Gaza are fleeing from one part of the besieged strip to another on Israel’s orders, without mercy or end. Those who survive do so in unimaginable circumstances, waiting for the world to finally intervene and save them from this attack.

Although the United States has publicly stated that it opposes the attack on Rafah, Israel continues to expand its actions. Biden falls between Republicans who say his red lines are a betrayal of America’s commitment to Israel’s security and who oppose his promise to punish Israel if it does attack. To avoid being outflanked by Republicans on the issue, Biden recently signaled he would approve another $1 billion in arms sales to Israel even as he threatened to cut off aid in the event of an invasion of Rafah. Such mixed messages and actions by the administration once again demonstrate the chaos in the Biden administration’s Gaza policy. And this continues to prolong the war.

And no matter what happens in the geopolitical arena, it does not matter much to the Palestinians, who continue to suffer and die every day. Israel attacks Rafah. Whether this meets Biden’s definition of a “large-scale attack” is irrelevant to the families of the innocent people who are being killed.