April 21, 2024

Nearly 1.5 million people are now crammed into the southern city on the border with Egypt, and with nowhere further to flee.

โ€˜Terrifyingโ€™ situationย 

A potential full-fledged incursion in Rafah โ€œis terrifying, given the prospect that an extremely high number of civilians, again mostly children and women, will likely be killed and injured,” Mr. Tรผrk warned.

โ€œToday, sadly, given the carnage wrought so far in Gaza it is wholly imaginable what would lie ahead in Rafah,โ€ he added.

Aid delivery at riskย 

The incursion may also mean the end of the โ€œmeagerโ€ humanitarian aid entering Gaza, with huge implications, including for hundreds of thousands of people in the north of the enclave who are at grave risk of starvation and famine.

โ€œMy Office has repeatedly warned against actions that violate the laws of war. The prospect of such an operation into Rafah, as circumstances stand, risks further atrocity crimes,โ€ Mr. Tรผrk said.ย 

The UN rights chief urged Israel to comply with the legally binding orders issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and with the full span of international humanitarian law.

โ€˜Accountability must followโ€™ย 

Following a case brought forward by South Africa, the ICJ โ€“ the UNโ€™s top court โ€“ declared last month that Palestinians had a right to be protected from acts of genocide, and called on Israel to โ€œtake all measures within its powerโ€ to prevent such actions and allow aid to enter Gaza.ย 

โ€œThose who defy international law have been put on notice. Accountability must follow,โ€ said Mr. Turk.ย 

โ€œThe world must not allow this to happen. Those with influence must restrain rather than enable. There must be an immediate ceasefire. All remaining hostages must be released. And there must be renewed collective resolve to reach a political solution.โ€ย 

No safe place

Currently, there is no safe place in Gaza, UN Spokesperson Stรฉphane Dujarric said later on Monday during his regular briefing in New York.ย 

Responding to a reporterโ€™s question, he said the UN will not be party to the forced displacement of people, noting that most of Gazaโ€™s population is now in the south.ย 

Meanwhile, unexploded ordnance remains โ€œa huge challengeโ€ in north and south Gaza, he said, adding that โ€œyou canโ€™t send people back to areas that are littered with unexploded ordnance, not to mention a lack of shelter.โ€

Mr. Dujarric also addressed the dire humanitarian situation in the enclave. He warned that current humanitarian supplies โ€œmay last us just daysโ€, while not enough aid is getting in.ย 

The UN and partners โ€œare doing all we canโ€ to deliver lifesaving assistance, he said, with aid partners reaching some 450,000 people weekly with a variety of health services.ย 

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