Sunday, May 19, 2024

Israeli offensive in Gaza’s Rafah would compound “unbearable tragedy”: UN

The head of the UN agency for Palestine refugees (UNRWA) has repeated urgent calls for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, warning of "new forced displacement" and an "anxiety of endless suffering" among Gazans.

“An Israeli military offensive will lead to an additional layer of an already unbearable tragedy for the people in Gaza,” the commissioner-general of UNRWA, Philippe Lazzarini, posted on X on Monday.

“It will make even more difficult to reverse the expansion of the already man made famine.”

“What is needed is a ceasefire now not new forced displacement and anxiety of endless suffering,” he added.

This came as negotiations for a ceasefire and the release of hostages once again stalled.

UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine Francesca Albanese has also warned that Israel’s possible attack on Rafah would be an “attack on the civilian population” and a “massacre”.

The Israeli army issued immediate evacuation orders on Monday for Palestinians in the eastern neighborhoods of Rafah and called on them to move to the town of al-Mawasi in southern Gaza.

Around 100,000 Palestinian civilians are estimated to be living in the areas to be evacuated, according to Israeli Army Radio.

Rafah is home to more than 1.5 million displaced Palestinians, who have taken refuge from the war launched by Israel following a Hamas attack last Oct. 7 that killed nearly 1,200 people.

Since then, the Israeli onslaught has killed more than 34,600 Palestinians, mostly women and children, besides causing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Nearly seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave’s population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is “plausible” that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza and ordered Tel Aviv to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians there.

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