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Sunday, April 14, 2024

German Foreign Minister Calls for Humanitarian Cease-fire Amidst Fears of Rafah Attacks

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock urges humanitarian cease-fire amidst fears of Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, emphasizing compliance with international law.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock on Monday called for a humanitarian cease-fire amid growing concerns about an Israeli ground offensive in Rafah.

Speaking to reporters in Brussels ahead of an EU foreign ministers meeting, Baerbock said they will be discussing the latest developments in the region, and ongoing diplomatic efforts.

“We need a humanitarian cease-fire, we need the release of the hostages, we need Hamas to lay down its weapons, and we need the compliance of international humanitarian law,” she said.

Baerbock pointed out that more than 1 million Palestinian civilians have taken shelter in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, after the Israeli army ordered them to evacuate there for their safety.

She warned against the potential consequences of a ground offensive, including civilian casualties, and reminded Israeli government of its obligations under international law.

“Over a million people went down to the south of Rafah because the Israel Defense Forces told them so, they cannot just disappear in the sky,” the minister said.

Read More: ICJ Begins Public Hearings on Israeli Practices in Palestine

“I have made this very clear, Israel has a right to self-defense, but also has to comply with international humanitarian law,” she stressed.

Some 1.5 million Palestinians previously displaced by Israel’s offensive on Gaza are holed up in Rafah, seeking refuge from hostilities.

Israel’s reported plans for an offensive on the city have sounded international alarm bells, with many countries urging restraint or cancelation of the operation.

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 attack by Hamas which killed some 1,200 Israelis. The ensuing Israeli attack has killed nearly 29,000 people, mostly women and children.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide, and guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.