Israeli ground invasion in Rafah would be tragedy beyond words: UN

AFP , Wednesday 1 May 2024

A ground invasion by Israeli troops in the southern Gaza city of Rafah would be a "tragedy beyond words", the UN's humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said in a statement on Tuesday.

A youth drives a donkey-drawn cart along a busy road at a camp housing displaced Palestinians in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on April 2024.AFP


"The simplest truth is that a ground operation in Rafah will be nothing short of a tragedy beyond words. No humanitarian plan can counter that," Griffiths said, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to launch an offensive on Rafah, which has become a refuge to some 1.5 million Palestinians.

With Hamas weighing a truce plan proposed in Cairo talks with the US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators, Netanyahu vowed to launch the assault on Rafah "with or without a deal".

Washington has joined calls on Israel from other countries and humanitarian organisations to spare the city for fear an army incursion would lead to massive civilian casualties.

"The world has been appealing to the Israeli authorities for weeks to spare Rafah, but a ground operation there is on the immediate horizon," said Griffiths.

"For the hundreds of thousands of people who have fled to Gaza's southernmost point to escape disease, famine, mass graves and direct fighting, a ground invasion would spell even more trauma and death.

"For agencies struggling to provide humanitarian aid despite the active hostilities, impassable roads, unexploded ordnance, fuel shortages, delays at checkpoints, and Israeli restrictions, a ground invasion would strike a disastrous blow.

"We are in a race to stave off hunger and death, and we are losing."

Israel has killed at least 34,568 Palestinians in Gaza since the begining of the war October 7. 

Another 77,765 have been wounded in Israeli attacks, the Health Ministry said.

The ministry added that 33 people were killed and 57 injured in the latest 24-hour period.

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