Saturday, May 25, 2024

Ground invasion of Rafah would be “intolerable”: UN chief

A ground attack against the Southern Gaza city of Rafah would be "intolerable", United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Monday.

“A ground invasion in Rafah would be intolerable because of its devastating humanitarian consequences and because of its destabilizing impact in the region,” the UN chief warned.

Guterres added he had made a “very strong appeal” to both the Israeli government and the leadership of Hamas to “go an extra mile” to reach a ceasefire agreement.

“This is an opportunity that cannot be missed,” he continued.

He called on the Israeli government and Hamas leadership to agree to a ceasefire deal after Hamas announced it has accepted a deal proposed by Egypt and Qatar.

He urged the parties to “go the extra mile needed to make an agreement come true and stop the present suffering”, according to a statement issued by Stéphane Dujarric, spokesperson for the secretary general.

The UN human rights chief Volker Türk has also called Israel’s demand for Palestinians to relocate from Rafah in southern Gaza as inhumane.

“Gazans continue to be hit with bombs, disease, and even famine. And today, they have been told that they must relocate yet again as Israeli military operations into Rafah scale up. This is inhumane. It runs contrary to the basic principles of international humanitarian and human rights laws, which have the effective protection of civilians as their overriding concern,” Türk said in a statement.

Türk criticized Israel for “forcibly relocating” hundreds of thousands of people to areas already heavily destroyed and where there is little shelter and virtually no access to humanitarian assistance necessary for their survival.” He added that there is nowhere safe outside of Rafah.

He also warned that those who don’t comply with international human rights laws must be held accountable.

The Israeli military told people in eastern Rafah to “evacuate immediately” on Monday, after Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant told troops in Gaza to expect “intense action” in the southern city “in the near future”.

At least 34,735 people, mostly women and children, have been killed and 78,018 wounded in Israel’s assault on Gaza since October, according to Palestinian authorities. The offensive has destroyed much of Gaza and a near-total siege has pushed parts of it to the brink of famine.

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