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Israeli Ground Attack On Rafah To Have 'Disastrous' Consequences: Norway's Foreign Minister

13.02.2024 12:57

In remarks to Anadolu, Espen Barth Eide 'strongly' urges Israel to cease aerial attacks on Gaza.

Israel's planned ground offensive into Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip, would cause the already catastrophic situation in the territory to spiral further, Norway's foreign minister warned on Tuesday.

"I am deeply disturbed by the heavy death toll in Rafah. Over 1.5 million people are seeking refuge in a city originally housing around 280,000," Norwegian Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide said in remarks to Anadolu.

"Distinguishing between civilians and military targets in densely populated areas in Gaza is extremely difficult. Under such circumstances, I strongly urge Israel to cease the aerial attacks against Gaza," Eide added.

Pointing to the "disastrous consequences" a ground operation would have in Rafah, he underlined that it would "exacerbate an already catastrophic situation" and jeopardize humanitarian efforts.

"International law is clear that civilians must be protected. Israel is clearly not doing enough to protect civilians. There are no safe places in Gaza. I also reiterate my appeal for a cease-fire. The war must end," Eide said.

More than 100 people were killed and hundreds injured in attacks by the Israeli army this week on Rafah, where a planned ground offensive has triggered concerns of a humanitarian catastrophe.

Palestinians have sought refuge in the city as Israel pounded the rest of the enclave since a cross-border incursion by the Palestinian group Hamas on Oct. 7. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed more than 28,000 people and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which said in an interim ruling that South Africa's claims in a case filed in December were plausible. -

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