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UN rights chief warns against full-scale Israeli offensive on Rafah

Volker Turk, the United Nations human rights chief

The United Nation's High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk has expressed alarm about the "catastrophic" impact of a full-scale Israeli offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

In a statement released on Sunday, the UN human rights chief warned that a full-scale invasion of Rafah cannot take place for the sake of civilians.

"I have repeatedly expressed my alarm about the catastrophic impact of a possible full-scale offensive on Rafah, including the possibility of further atrocity crimes," the UN rights chief said.

Turk said he could not see how the latest evacuation orders or a “full assault” in an area with an extremely dense civilian presence, can be reconciled with the binding requirements of international humanitarian law and with the two sets of binding provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“At this desperate moment, exacerbated by acts impeding the entry of humanitarian aid in Gaza through the three crossings, there is a dire shortage of fuel, which is hindering everything,” the UN rights chief said.

The remarks come as displaced Palestinians in the southern Rafah city are struggling to find a safe place with the continued Israeli genocidal war on Gaza.

He said that since May 6, when the Israeli forces issued an evacuation order to Palestinians in eastern Rafah, more than 278,000 people have been displaced. The latest evacuation orders affect close to a million people in Rafah, Turk noted.

“These exhausted, famished people, many of whom have been displaced many times already, have no good options."

"There is no safe place in Gaza.  So where should they go now?” the UN rights chief asked.

“This includes people with disabilities, the chronically ill, older people, the injured, pregnant women, and many others who are physically unable to move without help.”

He noted that other towns across Gaza, including Khan Younis, which is supposed to receive those who are being displaced from Rafah right now, have already been “reduced to rubble,” and remain under attack, thus not safe.

The latest Israeli aggression comes despite international warnings that it will further deteriorate the already dire humanitarian situation there.

Doctors and medics in Rafah describe the condition of hospitalized patients in this city as catastrophic. They say Israel's relentless bombardments have left no safe place in the city, calling on international organizations to provide immediate help.

More than seven months into the US-Israeli genocidal war on Gaza, the Israeli regime continues to kill civilians across the besieged territory.

The regime has carried out fresh attacks in the north, pushing deeper into the Jabalia refugee camp, and killing several people there. In the central parts of the strip, over 60 Palestinians were killed in just 24 hours.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since last October when the US-Israeli genocide began. Most of those killed are women and children. Thousands of bodies also remain under the rubble.

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