UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has voiced “extreme” concern over the potential expansion of the Israeli military offensive into Rafah, located in the southern Gaza Strip. Speaking at a press briefing in New York, Guterres’ spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, highlighted the impact on civilians observed during actions in Khan Younis, expressing particular worry about the densely populated area further south. The UN’s own facility was affected when the compound was hit, underscoring the severity of the situation.
Dujarric pointed out that Rafah currently shelters more than half of the displaced Gaza population, making it a crucial route for humanitarian assistance to the 2.2 million people in dire need. The UN Secretary-General emphasized the grave conditions faced by residents in the southern region, heightening concerns about the potential consequences of an expanded military offensive.
Humanitarian Office Fears Worsening Situation
The UN humanitarian office echoed these apprehensions, expressing fear over the possible extension of the Israeli military offensive to Rafah. Jens Laerke, spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), conveyed deep concern about the fate of displaced Gazans in Rafah. The city not only hosts a significant portion of the displaced population but also serves as a critical pathway for essential humanitarian aid.
Laerke drew attention to historical concerns, indicating a cause for worry based on past events. Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s statement that forces would “continue to Rafah” heightened these fears. The ongoing military operations, which have already claimed numerous lives and caused mass displacement, have created conditions conducive to famine.
Israeli Defence Minister’s Statement Raises Alarm
Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s recent statement on continuing military actions in Rafah has added to the alarm. Confirming the disbandment of the Hamas organisation’s Khan Yunis Brigade, Gallant asserted the mission would extend to Rafah. This declaration raises questions about the potential humanitarian consequences in a region already grappling with the aftermath of the conflict.
The situation remains fluid, with international concerns escalating over the possible impact on civilians, displacement, and the delivery of crucial humanitarian aid. The UN Secretary-General’s grave concerns underscore the urgency of addressing the evolving crisis to prevent further humanitarian catastrophes in Gaza.