The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) has warned of a growing sense of apprehension and panic in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, following Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s earlier order to the military to submit a military plan for an offensive on Rafah following the evacuation of civilians.
“Any large-scale military operation among this population can only add an additional layer to the unending tragedy that is unfolding,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Filipe Lazarini said, adding:
“You can feel the anxiety and panic growing in Rafah. People have absolutely no idea where to go from Rafah.”
His announcement followed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s order to the army to submit a military plan to evacuate civilians from Rafah and defeat the Hamas battalions there.
Because of the order, Great Britain expressed concern calling on Tel Aviv to “take more care to limit operations to military targets, avoid harming civilians”. The UK states that the priority in Gaza must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and the hostages out, followed by progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire.
And the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland stated that the reports about the intensification of Israeli military activity in Rafah are alarming and would have devastating consequences.
An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians are in Rafah after the Israeli army forced hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from the northern Gaza Strip to evacuate to the south.
Following a genocide claim brought by the Republic of South Africa, the International Court of Justice ruled on January 26 that Israel must refrain from any actions related to the killing, attacks and destruction of Gazans and take all measures to prevent the genocide.
However, Israeli forces continue to carry out attacks that have killed at least 27,947 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and wounded 67,459 since October 7.
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