‘Everything Possible’ Must Be Done to Avoid Intensified Hostilities in Rafah – UN

A Palestinian child in a displacement camp in Rafah, southern Gaza. (Photo: Mahmoud Ajjour, The Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“Everything possible” must be done to avoid intensified hostilities in the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, as this may lead to a “large scale” loss of civilian lives, the UN humanitarian office warned on Tuesday.

“We can warn what might unfold with the ground invasion and we can make clear what the law says and … under international humanitarian law, indiscriminate bombing of densely populated areas may amount to war crimes,” Jens Laerke, the spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told a UN briefing in Geneva.

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“So to be clear, intensified hostilities in Rafah in this situation could lead to large scale loss of civilian lives, and we must do everything possible within our power to avoid that,” Laerke urged.

Israel’s Defense Minister Yoav Gallant recently announced Rafah as the army’s next target in a press conference, claiming that it is the last remaining stronghold of the Palestinian Resistance group Hamas.

Hundreds of thousands of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are crammed into Rafah near the border with Egypt, staying in residential buildings or tents.

The city, which was home to 200,000 people, now hosts more than half of Gaza’s population, according to the United Nations.

Palestinian civilians fled to Rafah following intense bombardment across the Strip and invading Israeli forces in nearby Khan Yunis.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 27,585 Palestinians have been killed, and 66,978 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

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Moreover, at least 8,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip. 

Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all of the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

(PC, AA)

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