Possible ground offensive in Rafah | An “intolerable escalation” according to Antonio Guterres

(United Nations) UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned Tuesday against an Israeli military offensive in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip, which he said would represent an “intolerable escalation”.

“A military assault on Rafah would constitute an intolerable escalation, killing thousands more civilians and forcing hundreds of thousands more to flee,” Mr. Guterres told the press, imploring the Israeli authorities not to engage in it. .

Such an offensive “will have a devastating impact on Palestinians in Gaza and serious repercussions on the occupied West Bank and the entire region,” he added.

“All members of the Security Council and many other States have clearly expressed their opposition to such an operation. I ask everyone who has influence over Israel to do everything in their power to prevent it,” the official said.

The UN chief’s warning comes after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that his army would enter “with or without” a truce into the town of Rafah, bordering Egypt, considered by Israel to be the last stronghold of Hamas.

“The idea that we are going to stop the war before we have achieved all of our objectives is out of the question. We will enter Rafah and eliminate the Hamas battalions there, with or without (a truce) agreement, in order to achieve total victory,” Mr. Netanyahu told relatives of hostages in Jerusalem on Tuesday.


Palestinians walk through rubble of building destroyed by Israeli strike in Rafah

The city of Rafah has become a refuge for a million and a half Palestinians, having fled Israeli bombings in the north of the territory after the start of the war on October 7, provoked by the bloody Hamas attack.

Mr. Guterres also implored Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement to conclude a truce “now”, and reiterated his call for Israel to allow the entry of more humanitarian aid into Gaza, including through the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNRWA).

“Without this, I fear that the war, with all its consequences both in Gaza and in the wider region, will worsen exponentially,” he said.

The UN chief finally said he was “deeply concerned” by the discovery of mass graves in the two main hospitals in the Gaza Strip and called for an independent investigation.

“It is imperative that independent international investigators… are allowed immediate access to the sites to determine the exact circumstances in which Palestinians lost their lives and were buried or reburied,” he said.

“The families of the dead and missing have the right to know what happened. And the world has the right to demand accountability for any violations of international law that may have been committed,” he said.

Mass graves were discovered in two of the territory’s main hospitals, al-Chifa in Gaza and Nasser in Khan Younes.

reference: www.lapresse.ca

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