Western Countries Urge Israel to Refrain from Operation in Rafah

Fri May 17 2024
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ROME: Thirteen Western countries, traditionally supportive of Israel, jointly appealed on Friday to Israel to refrain from launching a large-scale offensive on Rafah.

“We reiterate our opposition to a full-scale military operation in Rafah that would have catastrophic consequences on the civilian population,” read the appeal, sent by the countries’ foreign ministers to their Israeli counterpart Israel Katz and made public.

The signatories, including Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and several EU member states, acknowledged recent measures taken by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government to facilitate international aid flow into Gaza but urged for further actions.

They specifically urged Israel to allow humanitarian aid to enter Gaza through all relevant crossing points, including Rafah, and emphasized the importance of protecting civilians, aid workers, and journalists.

Moreover, they called for a sustainable ceasefire and urged Israel to open all possible overland supply routes into Gaza, resume essential services like electricity and water, and significantly increase the supply of critically needed goods, particularly medical supplies.

Furthermore, the ministers appealed to Israel to facilitate the evacuation of citizens, eligible individuals, and Palestinians requiring humanitarian or medical relocation abroad by issuing necessary exit permits.

Despite international concerns, Israel vowed to intensify its ground offensive in Rafah, further exacerbating the dire situation for the hundreds of thousands of displaced Palestinians in the area. The Israeli blockade has already led to severe shortages of food, safe water, medicines, and fuel for Gaza’s 2.4 million residents. The flow of aid convoys has slowed significantly since Israeli forces seized control of the Gaza side of the Rafah crossing.

At least 35,303 Palestinians, mostly women and men, were martyred in Gaza in the seven months of war between Israel and Hamas that broke out on October 7, the health ministry said.

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