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Ireland Says Israel's Plan For Military Operations In Rafah Poses 'Grave Threat' To Palestinians

11.02.2024 05:42

It cannot be allowed to happen, says Foreign Minister Micheal Martin.

The Irish foreign minister warned Saturday that expanded military operations in Rafah pose a grave threat to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Micheal Martin said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's announcement of expanded military operations in Rafah in southern Gaza and orders for the evacuation of the civilian population pose a grave threat to the estimated 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering there, and it "must be condemned."

"It is absolutely clear that a military operation in Rafah, which has effectively now become one of the largest and most overcrowded refugee camps in the world, would entail grave violations of international humanitarian law," he noted.

His statement came after Netanyahu asked the army Saturday to remobilize reserve soldiers in preparation for a ground offensive in Rafah in southern the Gaza Strip.

That cannot be allowed to happen, said Martin, who stressed that all countries, including EU members, must demand an immediate humanitarian cease-fire, adding: "There can be no further equivocation."

Touching on freezing or withdrawing funding to the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA) by some countries, Martin highlighted that it further exacerbates the risks, calling on those countries to revoke their decisions.

Martin also noted that he will meet UNRWA Commissioner General Philippe Lazzarini in Dublin to discuss what further support Ireland can provide to UNRWA's essential work.

He noted that Hamas must release all hostages "immediately and unconditionally," underlining that full, safe and unhindered humanitarian access must be provided.

Early Saturday, the UNRWA said a military offensive on Rafah "in the middle of these completely exposed, vulnerable people is a recipe for disaster."

The offensive has left 85% of Gaza's population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Last month, the International Court of Justice issued an interim order demanding Israel stop obstructing aid deliveries into Gaza and improve the humanitarian situation in the enclave following a lawsuit by South Africa that accused Tel Aviv of committing genocide. -

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