13 Western countries urge restraint from Israel over Rafah

AFP , Saturday 18 May 2024

Thirteen Western countries, including many traditionally supportive of Israel, appealed to it Friday not to launch a large-scale offensive on Rafah.

Displaced Palestinians pack their belongings before leaving an unsafe area in Rafah, May 2024. AFP


"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 were Australia, Britain, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and EU member states Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden.

The ministers welcomed recent measures adopted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's cabinet to improve the flow of international aid into Gaza, but called for "further steps".

"We urge the Government of Israel to let the humanitarian aid enter into the Gaza Strip through all relevant crossing points, including the one in Rafah," they said.

They called on Israel to take "concrete action for the protection of civilians, international and local humanitarian aid workers and journalists".

The appeal also called for "a sustainable ceasefire".

The ministers urged Israel to "open all possible overland supply routes into Gaza" for aid, to "resume electricity, water and telecommunication services", and boost significantly "the supply of critically needed goods... particularly medical supplies".

Finally, they called on Israel to "facilitate further evacuations by issuing exit permits for all our citizens, eligible persons, and Palestinians admitted to relocate for humanitarian or medical reasons abroad".

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