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13 Feb, 2024 15:57

UK tells Israel to ‘stop and think’ over Gaza

West Jerusalem must carefully consider any military action in Rafah, Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said
UK tells Israel to ‘stop and think’ over Gaza

Israel must carefully consider the consequences of further military action in Rafah in southern Gaza, which hosts approximately a million displaced Palestinian civilians, British Foreign Secretary David Cameron has said. His comments came shortly after Israel carried out airstrikes that killed 67 people in the city and left dozens injured, according to local officials.

Located near the Egyptian border, Rafah had a population of around 280,000 people before hostilities between Israel and Hamas broke out last October. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) had previously urged Palestinian civilians to evacuate to the city as it rolled into the northern part of the enclave.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Cameron said the UK is “very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think very seriously before it takes any further action.”

He argued that “it is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people,” referring to Rafah’s swollen population, noting that “there’s nowhere for them to go.”

According to the former British prime minister, London would like to see “an immediate pause in the fighting” that would lead to a ceasefire.  

On Saturday, Cameron estimated that “over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering in the area” at the moment.  

In a post on X (formerly Twitter), German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock also predicted that an “offensive by the Israeli army on Rafah would be a humanitarian catastrophe in the making.” She insisted that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has a responsibility to “mitigate the suffering of the civilian population as much as possible.” 

Saudi Arabia has warned Israel of “very serious repercussions” if it goes ahead with a planned ground offensive in southern Gaza.  

Meanwhile, Russian presidential envoy to the Middle East and Africa, Mikhail Bogdanov, told reporters that Moscow viewed the prospect of an Israeli offensive in Rafah “extremely negatively,” describing the continued hostilities as a “catastrophe.”  

On Friday, Netanyahu’s office claimed that Israel’s goal of “eliminating Hamas” cannot be achieved without clearing Rafah of the remaining militants.  

Israel declared war on the Islamist group after Hamas and allied militants attacked Israeli cities on October 7, killing around 1,200 people and taking over 200 hostages. Dozens of captives were subsequently freed as part of a prisoner swap during a weeklong ceasefire in November. 

More than 28,000 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, according to health authorities in Gaza.