Ramallah /PNN /
Following reports from the Israeli Prime Minister's office about Benjamin Netanyahu's request for the army to prepare for a ground war and invasion of Rafah in the southernmost part of the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Presidency and international entities have issued strong warnings against the execution of this attack and the potential war crimes and forced displacement it could entail due to the high population density after the displacement of over a million people from Gaza to the border city.
The Palestinian Presidency vehemently rejected and condemned the statements made by the Israeli Prime Minister regarding plans to continue Israeli aggression in Rafah, southern Gaza. It deemed this as a real threat and a dangerous prelude to implementing the rejected Israeli policy aimed at displacing the Palestinian people from their land.
In a statement released on Friday evening, the Palestinian Presidency held the Israeli government fully responsible for the repercussions of such actions, emphasizing the specific responsibility of the US administration. It stressed the dangers of such a destructive policy.
The Presidency affirmed that the Palestinian people will not abandon their land and will not accept forced displacement.
The Palestinian Presidency called on the UN Security Council to assume its responsibilities, as the occupation's move threatens the security and peace in the region and the world, violating all red lines.
It added, “It is time for everyone to take responsibility in facing the creation of another catastrophe that will plunge the entire region into endless wars.”
In turn, Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh called on the United States, the European Union, the permanent members of the UN Security Council, and all countries worldwide to urgently intervene to prevent the expansion of the aggression and genocidal crimes towards Rafah. This area currently hosts around 1.4 million displaced individuals within a 63 square-kilometer space. These people sought refuge from various areas in Gaza, facing destruction, displacement, and starvation for the past five months.
Shtayyeh, in a statement on Friday evening, warned of forced displacement and the occurrence of horrific massacres that could claim thousands of lives, given the congestion of Rafah with displaced persons enduring the pain of losing their families, suffering from hunger, thirst, cold, diseases, and epidemics.
Norwegian Foreign Minister stated that a ground operation in Rafah would worsen the already catastrophic situation and make it more challenging to bring humanitarian aid.
He reiterated the call for a ceasefire in Gaza and strongly warned Israel against advancing towards Rafah, expressing concern about potential bloodshed there.
On the other hand, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, stated that reports of an Israeli military attack on Rafah are deeply concerning.
Borrell emphasized that an attack on Rafah would have catastrophic consequences, exacerbating the humanitarian situation and causing unbearable losses among civilians.
He pointed out that 1.4 million Palestinians are currently in Rafah without a safe place to go, facing famine.
UNICEF has warned that a ground Israeli military offensive escalation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah would mark a “devastating turn” in the ongoing Israeli aggression on the enclave, as Israel moves toward an expected ground invasion in the overcrowded province.
“An escalation of the fighting in Rafah, which is already straining under the extraordinary number of people who have been displaced from other parts of Gaza, will mark another devastating turn in a war that has reportedly killed over 27,000 people – most of them women and children,” UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell said in a press statement.
UNICEF said 600,000 children are among the more than one million people in the densely populated city in the southern Gaza Strip. Many fled to Rafah as an earlier Israeli ground offensive erupted in northern areas of Gaza. If the region’s remaining hospitals, shelters, markets and water systems are destroyed, hunger and disease “will skyrocket,” the UN organization warned.
“I appeal to all parties… to adhere to their obligations under international humanitarian law. That includes taking the utmost care to spare civilians and civilian infrastructure, to meet civilians’ essential needs and facilitate rapid, safe, and unimpeded humanitarian access,” Russell said, reupping UNICEF’s call for an “immediate humanitarian ceasefire.”
“A humanitarian ceasefire will save lives. It will allow for the expansion of the humanitarian response, and help provide the best protection for children whose lives and futures are hanging in the balance,” according to the statement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said today he ordered the military to evacuate the population of Rafah ahead of an expected invasion of the province.