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Egypt warns of ‘catastrophic repercussions’ if Israel invades Rafah

Palestinians stand outside their tents at a refugee camp in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 27, 2024. (AFP)

Egypt says any ground offensive by Israel's military forces on the last refuge of Palestinians in the southern Gaza Strip would have catastrophic repercussions.

Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry told the 55th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Tuesday that an invasion of the town of Rafah in far-southern Gaza would “undermine peace in the region”.

“The world is witnessing the most heinous crimes and violations against the Palestinian people.”

Shoukry criticized some members of the 47-member UNHRC for taking no firm action to stop Israel’s almost five-month war on the besieged Gaza Strip.

“It seems that life in Gaza is not worthy enough of their attention, that the massacre of tens of thousands of children fails to shake their otherwise all-too-sensitive conscience,” he said.

“The lives of Gaza's children are seemingly less valuable than others,” he said, warning that their continued inaction “preludes the... collapse of the international system, including this council.”

International alarm over an Israeli ground attack on Rafah has intensified in recent days, as Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel, has threatened that the regime will “do it anyway”.

“If we have a deal (with Palestinian resistance movement Hamas), it will be delayed somewhat, but it will happen. If we don't have a deal, we'll do it anyway,” Netanyahu told CBS News on Sunday.

Rafah, the town along the Egyptian border, which was once deemed a “safe zone” by the Israeli military forces, has now become the last refuge for over half of Gaza’s entire population of more than 2.3 million, who have fled their homes in other parts of the territory to shelter from incessant Israeli attacks.

Earlier this month, Egypt threatened to suspend its peace treaty with Israel if the regime sends its troops to Rafah. It said any ground invasion in the border town could force the closure of the besieged territory’s main aid supply route.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also warned on Monday that Israel's invasion of Rafah would “put the final nail in the coffin” of aid operations in Gaza.

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