WHO appeals to Israel to halt planned assault on Rafah

AFP , Saturday 16 Mar 2024

The head of the World Health Organisation on Saturday appealed to Israel "in the name of humanity" not to launch an assault on Rafah, where most of Gaza's population is sheltering.

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said an evacuation of Rafah ahead of the assault was not a practical solution. AFP


"I'm gravely concerned about reports of an Israeli plan to proceed with a ground assault on Rafah," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

"Further escalation of violence in this densely populated area would lead to many more deaths and suffering," he added.



"In the name of humanity, we appeal to Israel not to proceed and instead to work towards peace."

An evacuation planned by the Israeli army ahead of launching its assault was not a practical solution, he argued.

"The 1.2 million people in Rafah do not have anywhere safe to move to."

"There are no fully functional, safe health facilities that they can reach elsewhere in Gaza," he said. "Many people are too fragile, hungry and sick to be moved again...

"This humanitarian catastrophe must not be allowed to worsen."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the military's "plans for action in Rafah", according to a statement Friday, which gave no details or a timeline.

The United Nations and the United States have also repeatedly warned against such a military operation.

Israel's relentless bombardment and ground invasion have killed at least 31,553 people in Gaza, most of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

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