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Statements and speeches Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk on Israeli operation into Rafah

12 February 2024

RAFAH, GAZA - FEBRUARY 12: A general view of the heavily damaged building, part of which collapsed, after Israeli attacks in Rafah, Gaza on February 12, 2024. © Anadolu via Reuters Connect

A potential full-fledged military incursion into Rafah – where some 1.5 million Palestinians are packed against the Egyptian border with nowhere further to flee – is terrifying, given the prospect that an extremely high number of civilians, again mostly children and women, will likely be killed and injured.

Not so long ago, I had flagged the unimaginable suffering faced by Palestinians in Gaza. Today, sadly, given the carnage wrought so far in Gaza it is wholly imaginable what would lie ahead in Rafah. Beyond the pain and suffering of the bombs and bullets, this incursion into Rafah may also mean the end of the meager humanitarian aid that has been entering and distributed with huge implications for all of Gaza, including the hundreds of thousands at grave risk of starvation and famine in the north. My Office has repeatedly warned against actions that violate the laws of war. The prospect of such an operation into Rafah, as circumstances stand, risks further atrocity crimes.

Israel must comply with the legally binding orders issued by the International Court of Justice, and with the full span of international humanitarian law. Those who defy international law have been put on notice. Accountability must follow.

The world must not allow this to happen. Those with influence must restrain rather than enable. There must be an immediate ceasefire. All remaining hostages must be released. And there must be renewed collective resolve to reach a political solution.

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In Geneva
Ravina Shamdasani : + 41 22 917 9169 / [email protected] or
Liz Throssell : + 41 22 917 9296 / [email protected] or
Jeremy Laurence : + 41 22 917 9383 / [email protected]

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