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Russia says Israeli plans regarding Palestinians in Rafah may turn into 'ethnic cleansing'

March 2, 2024 at 4:35 pm

Sergey Lavrov, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia attends the ADF Talks within the Antalya Diplomacy Forum at NEST Congress and Exhibition Center in Antalya, Turkiye on March 01, 2024. [Mehmet Ali Özcan – Anadolu Agency]

Russia said on Saturday that Israel’s plans regarding Palestinians in Rafah may turn into an “ethnic cleansing”, Anadolu reports.

Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Turkiye, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: “A real tragedy is taking place in Gaza, which has no end in sight.”

There are a lot of initiatives on a cease-fire and humanitarian pause, however, the statements of the Israeli leadership show that they do not change their goal of “clean up Gaza completely, eliminate Hamas,” he said.

“Even the Western representatives wonder how can this be done, to eliminate Hamas by 100%. Moreover, Israeli generals and ministers say that everyone in Gaza is Hamas. It is then necessary to destroy all the inhabitants of Gaza,” he said.

Lavrov said Moscow is also concerned about Israeli plans to carry out a military operation in Rafah, where two-thirds of the Gazans are seeking shelter from violence.

READ: Hamas delegation discusses latest Gaza situation with Russian special envoy

“If the operation of Rafah begins, a huge number of refugees will leave for Egypt, and the Egyptians have repeatedly stated that this is unacceptable. This will be ethnic cleansing in fact,” he stressed.

Israel has launched a deadly military offensive on the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas attack, which Tel Aviv said killed less than 1,200 people.

At least 30,320 Palestinians have since been killed and 71,533 others injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

READ: Egyptian, Qatari foreign ministers discuss Gaza cease-fire developments