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Politics and Pop Culture: Timing of Rafah bombing no coincidence

In the early hours of Monday, Feb. 12, the Israel Defense Force, or IDF, bombed Rafah, the southernmost city in Gaza, which borders Egypt. The 25-square-mile city is densely populated, currently holding over a million displaced Palestinians who have been seeking refuge there since the IDF declared it a safe zone. 

At least 67 Palestinians were killed, with the number of casualties expected to rise, and dozens more were injured. While this massacre was happening, the U.S. was preoccupied with the Kansas City Chiefs’ back-to-back Super Bowl win, and naturally social media was flooded with photos from the afterparty and clips from the game. Barely any attention has been paid to the horrific actions that were committed in Rafah or the terror that is still being unleashed there.

For the 123.4 million Super Bowl watchers, it was a night full of beer and finger foods. For over a million others in Rafah, it was a night “full of horror, strikes, death and destruction,” according to a Palestinian man who is staying in Rafah and witnessed the bombing. Of course, though, the timing of the attacks was a strategic decision made by the IDF. 

The IDF chose to airstrike Rafah when it knew the U.S. would be distracted, just like it chose to bomb the Al-Maghazi refugee camp Dec. 24 – while people were wrapped up in Christmas Eve festivities, it murdered more than 70 Palestinians. The IDF continues to commit its most heinous attacks when it knows it is not being watched, and its tactics are working.  

Perhaps worst of all, the attacks are U.S.-funded. On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate passed a $95 billion foreign aid package, $14 billion of which will go toward Israel’s military campaign, significantly more than the $9.2 billion in humanitarian assistance split between various war zones around the world. The consequences of that are sure to be devastating.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the bombing of Rafah was justified, as it was carried out in the name of bringing home the Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza. Ironically, though, there were serious talks of a peace deal that would include a ceasefire and the release of Israeli hostages back in January, which Netanyahu vehemently denied, vowing to gain “total victory” over Hamas. It is clear that Netanyahu’s actions have nothing to do with the release of the hostages and everything to do with the likes of a man who will stop at nothing to actualize his genocidal desires. Framing himself as a caring leader who valiantly sends troops to battle to rescue his people is a gutless move, though it appears to be an act convincing enough for U.S. lawmakers.

Rafah was Gaza’s last safe zone – if one could even call it that – and now, there is nowhere else for Palestinians to go. It is nothing short of evil to deem a place a safe haven and then viciously bomb it. 

The nightmare the IDF is inflicting on Palestinians transcends physical peril and borders psychological torture. If the airstrikes themselves and the rapidly increasing death tolls are not telling enough, the timing of the Rafah bombing should prove that Netanyahu knows what he is doing is wrong, otherwise, he would have no problem doing it while all eyes are on him. 

Brianna Tassiello is a junior studying journalism at Ohio University. Please note that the opinions expressed in this article do not represent those of The Post. Want to talk to Brianna? Email her at

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