Full-Scale Rafah Offensive Violation of International Law: UN Rights Chief

Sun May 12 2024
icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp

GENEVA: The United Nations human rights chief, Volker Turk on Sunday said that a full-scale Israeli assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah “cannot take place”, adding that the Israeli offensive could not be reconciled with international law.

All eyes have been on Rafah in recent weeks, where the Palestinian population had swelled to around 1.5 million after hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians fled fighting in other areas of the Gaza Strip. The Israeli military expanded its evacuation order for eastern Rafah, prompting an exodus of an estimated 300,000 Palestinians from the region.

Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, expressed grave concern over the plight of the displaced population, emphasizing the absence of safe havens for the exhausted and famished civilians. He warned that a full-scale offensive on Rafah could lead to catastrophic consequences, including the commission of further atrocity crimes.

In a strongly-worded statement, Turk denounced the evacuation orders and potential assault on Rafah as incompatible with the binding provisions of international humanitarian law and the mandates issued by the International Court of Justice. He underscored the imperative for all states with influence to intervene and prevent such actions.

Turk’s remarks come amidst a rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation in Gaza, exacerbated by the recent evacuation orders triggering massive displacement of an already traumatized population. The towns designated to receive the displaced have been described as “reduced to rubble,” further complicating relief efforts.

Against the backdrop of Gaza’s bloodiest conflict, Turk called for an immediate ceasefire and the release of all hostages.

Since October 7 last year, Israel has launched a relentless bombardment campaign in Gaza killing nearly 35,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, according to figures provided by Gaza’s health ministry.

icon-facebook icon-twitter icon-whatsapp