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UN 'fear' of Israel's ground offensive spreading to Rafah

February 2, 2024 at 6:16 pm

Smoke rises over the residential areas following the Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on January 31, 2024 [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

The UN humanitarian office today said it feared a possible expansion of the ongoing Israeli military offensive to Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

“We fear that could [be] worse for the people,” Spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Jens Laerke, told a briefing in Geneva.

Rafah is currently hosting over half of the Palestinian population of Gaza that has been displaced by the war and it is also the main route of humanitarian assistance for the 2.2 million civilians in dire need.

“History gives us that cause of concern,” Laerke said, adding: “Without a doubt, we fear for those displaced Gazans [in Rafah].”

Yesterday, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on X that Israeli forces in Gaza will “continue to Rafah.”

“The Khan Yunis Brigade of the Hamas organisation is disbanded, we will complete the mission there and continue to Rafah,” Gallant said.

Israel has killed more than 27,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip since 7 October and injured more than 66,100. The military onslaught has caused mass displacement and destruction and created conditions for famine.

READ: Satellite images show 30% of Gaza destroyed, UN centre says