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Tuesday, Feb 27, 2024

Warnings over Rafah offensive mount as Israel plans push in Gaza

International concern is rising regarding Israel's planned offensive in the densely populated city of Rafah, Gaza, where many Palestinian refugees reside.
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron noted that a significant portion of Gaza's population is taking refuge in Rafah, and Dutch Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot expressed fears of high civilian casualties.

Saudi Arabia predicted severe consequences should Rafah be attacked. Hamas has warned of potentially tens of thousands of deaths and disruptions to negotiations for the release of Israeli hostages in Gaza.

This comes after over 1,200 were killed on October 7 in southern Israel by Hamas, who also captured around 240 individuals. According to Gaza's Hamas-led health ministry, recent Israeli military actions have contributed to a death toll surpassing 28,100 and injured over 67,500 Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed preparation for civilian evacuations from Rafah, but many Gazans have nowhere else to go. Netanyahu insists that Hamas must be eliminated and dismissed their ceasefire proposal.

The U.S., the EU, and the UN have all warned against a Rafah invasion, citing disastrous outcomes. Aid organizations echo concerns, stating evacuations are not feasible. UN coordinator Jamie McGoldrick highlighted that Gazans in Rafah are trapped with "nowhere to go."

Approximately 1.5 million Palestinians are sheltering in Rafah, many in tents. Cameron urged for a halt in combat and a move towards a sustainable ceasefire, while Bruins Slot decried the likelihood of further humanitarian disaster. The Saudi foreign ministry called for an immediate ceasefire.

Recent incidents include Palestinian fatalities due to Israeli airstrikes on Rafah, Hamas operatives killed by the Israeli Air Force, and the IDF's discovery of a tunnel shaft near a UN-run school.

The claims of a tunnel beneath the main UNRWA office were denied by its head, Philippe Lazzarini. Furthermore, a six-year-old girl in Gaza City was found dead alongside relatives and paramedics, victims of suspected Israeli tank fire.

It should be noted that certain war claims have not been independently verified by the BBC.
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