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Call for urgent UNSC meeting after Israeli military action in Rafah

Date: Feb 12, 2024

Several countries, including South Africa (SA), Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are pushing for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) over Israel’s military action in southern Gaza.

In a hard-hitting statement, Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry has warned of serious repercussions for Israel’s military which targeted Gaza’s southern city of Rafah.

More than 1.2 million people have fled the war-ravaged areas in the north of the Strip.

Saudi Arabia says it reaffirms its categorical rejection and strong condemnation of any forcible displacement from Rafah, which borders Egypt to the south, and reiterates its call for an immediate ceasefire.

The White House says United States (US) President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in a call Sunday that any military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of the more than one million people sheltering there.

SA is warning that any move to displace Palestinians would be in contravention of the provisional orders handed down by the International Court of Justice.

Israeli strikes on Gaza’s southern city of Rafah killed 37 people and wounded dozens, local health officials said this Monday, after Joe Biden told Israel not to attack Rafah without a credible plan to protect civilians.

Heavy bombing caused widespread panic in Rafah as many people were asleep when the strikes started, said residents contacted by Reuters using a chat app. Some feared Israel had begun its ground offensive into Rafah.

Israeli planes, tanks and ships took part in the strikes, with two mosques and several houses hit, according to residents.

The Israeli military said this Monday it had conducted a “series of strikes” on southern Gaza that have now “concluded,” without providing further details.

Before previous assaults on Gaza cities, Israel’s military has ordered civilians to leave without preparing any specific evacuation plan.

 

Biden told Netanyahu this Sunday that Israel should not launch a military operation in Rafah without a credible plan to ensure the safety of the roughly 1 million people sheltering there, the White House said.

Aid agencies say an assault on Rafah would be catastrophic. It is the last relatively safe place in an enclave devastated by Israel’s military offensive.

Biden and Netanyahu spoke for about 45 minutes, days after the US leader said Israel’s military response in the Gaza Strip had been “over the top” and expressed grave concern over the rising civilian death toll in the Palestinian enclave.

Netanyahu’s office has said that it had ordered the military to develop a plan to evacuate Rafah and destroy four Hamas battalions it says are deployed there.

Hamas militants killed 1 200 people in southern Israel and abducted at least 250 in their October 7 incursion, according to Israeli tallies. Israel has responded with a military assault on the Gaza Strip that has killed more than 28 000 Palestinians, according to the Hamas-run health ministry.

Netanyahu said in an interview aired on Sunday that “enough” of the 132 remaining Israeli hostages held in Gaza were alive to justify Israel’s war in the region.

Israeli military said two hostages were freed overnight in a joint operation by the Israel Defence Force, Israel’s domestic Shin Bet security service and the Special Police Unit in Rafah.

Fernando Simon Marman, 60, and Louis Hare, 70, who were kidnapped by Hamas from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak, were in good condition and taken to the Tel Hashomer Medical Complex, the military said.

Hamas-run Aqsa Television this Sunday quoted a senior Hamas leader as saying any Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would “blow up” the hostage-exchange negotiations.

Egypt warned on Sunday of “dire consequences” of a potential Israeli military assault on Rafah, which lies near its border.

“Egypt called for the necessity of uniting all international and regional efforts to prevent the targeting of the Palestinian city of Rafah,” its Foreign Ministry added in a statement.

--SABC\Reuters--

 

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