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UN chief 'alarmed' by Israel possible military operation in Rafah

February 7, 2024 at 4:33 pm

The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on November 6, 2023 [Fatih Aktaş/Anadolu Agency]

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, on Wednesday warned against the consequences of Israel’s possible military operation in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip, Anadolu Agency reports.

“I am especially alarmed by reports that the Israeli military intends to focus next on Rafah – where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have been squeezed in a desperate search for safety,” Guterres told the UN General Assembly about 2024 priorities.

His remarks came after Israel’s Defence Minister, Yoav Gallant, said on Monday that the army’s next target in the Gaza Strip will be Rafah, claiming it is the last remaining stronghold of the Palestinian group, Hamas.

“Such an action would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences.

“It is time for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages,” Guterres said.

The situation in Gaza is “a festering wound on our collective conscience” that threatens the entire region, he added.

“Nothing justifies the horrific terror attacks launched by Hamas against Israel on 7 October. Nor is there any justification for the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.

“Yet, Israeli military operations have resulted in destruction and death in Gaza at a scale and speed without parallel since I became Secretary-General,” Guterres said.

Israel has launched a deadly offensive on Gaza following a 7 October attack by Hamas, killing at least 27,585 Palestinians and injuring 66,978 others, while nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

However, since then, it has been revealed by Haaretz that helicopters and tanks of the Israeli army had, in fact, killed many of the 1,139 soldiers and civilians claimed by Israel to have been killed by the Palestinian Resistance.

The Israeli offensive has left 85 per cent of Gaza’s population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60 per cent of the enclave’s infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

READ: Israel intensifies attacks on Rafah where half of displaced Gazans now live