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Palestine: UN warns of ground operation in Rafah; Turk urges protection of Gaza crossings

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Press release

Geneva – May 13, 2024


UN experts have cautioned that the ongoing ground operation by the Israeli army targeting eastern Rafah represents the culmination of a seven-month campaign to forcibly displace and destroy Gaza’s population.

In a statement released by the Media Center of the Human Rights Council in Geneva, the experts stated, “The threatened invasion of Rafah should not be seen as inevitable; Israel must halt this assault.”

The experts emphasized that the invasion of Rafah constitutes another blatant violation of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power, adding, “Given the dire humanitarian situation on the ground, any evacuation orders issued by Israel cannot be considered compliant with international humanitarian law.” International law requires Israel to ensure the protection of displaced civilians, providing them with continuous access to food, clean water, and medical assistance.

The experts further noted, “This becomes even more critical as Israel is warned that its actions may amount to genocide, and further displacement of Gaza’s population through evacuation orders or military operations contravenes the binding interim measures imposed by the International Court of Justice.”

Meanwhile, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, condemned all hostile acts threatening the entry and distribution of urgently needed humanitarian aid into Gaza, where the border crossings serve as a lifeline for food, medicine, fuel, and other essentials crucial for the desperate and fearful population.

Türk urged all parties to ensure that civilian crossings and essential goods remain out of harm’s way during military operations.

The High Commissioner reiterated his call for all parties to immediately lay down their arms and ensure full, unrestricted, and sustainable delivery of humanitarian assistance to meet the needs of all Palestinians in Gaza without delay.

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