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Borrell: ‘1.4 million Palestinians in Rafah facing starvation’

February 10, 2024 at 9:34 am

Palestinians children wait in line to receive food prepared by volunteers for Palestinian families ,displaced to Southern Gaza due to Israeli attacks, between rubbles of destroyed buildings in Rafah, Gaza on February 09, 2024. [Abed Rahim Khatib – Anadolu Agency]

High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell shared on Friday that there are currently 1.4 million Palestinians in the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip: “Without a safe place to go, facing starvation.”

In a post on X, Borrell considered reports of an Israeli military attack on Rafah “alarming”.

He stressed: “Reports of an Israeli military offensive on Rafah are alarming. It would have catastrophic consequences worsening the already dire humanitarian situation & the unbearable civilian toll.”

Borrell’s statements came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the army to prepare: “A plan for evacuating the population and destroying the battalions.”

The Prime Minister’s Office conveyed in a written statement, a copy of which was sent to Anadolu Agency: “It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war without eliminating Hamas, and by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah. On the contrary, it is clear that intense activity in Rafah requires that civilians evacuate the areas of combat.”

READ: Abbas says Israel plan for Rafah assault aims to drive Palestinians from Gaza

International estimates indicate that there are between 1.2 and 1.4 million Palestinians in Rafah after the Israeli army forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the northern Gaza Strip to flee to the south.

On Thursday, NSC Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby, said: “Any major military operation in Rafah at this time, under these circumstances, with more than a million — probably more like a million and a half Palestinians who are seeking refuge and have been seeking refuge in Rafah — without due consideration for their safety would be a disaster. And we would not support it.”

Since the beginning of the ground operation launched by Israel in the Gaza Strip on 27 October, it has been asking residents to go from the north and centre of the Strip to the south, claiming that they are safe areas, however, the north has not been spared the bombing of homes and cars.

As of Friday, the ground operation reached Khan Yunis and had not yet extended to Rafah, although the Israeli army had carried out air strikes and extensive artillery shelling on sites in Rafah since the beginning of the war on 7 October.

As a result of the atrocities committed in the Gaza Strip, Israel faces accusations of genocide before the International Court of Justice for the first time in its history. This was welcomed by regional and global parties to put an end to Israel’s impunity, but was opposed by the US.

READ: Israel PM orders evacuation of Rafah ahead of ground assault