ActionAid Ireland calls on the international community to act to prevent a full-scale invasion of Rafah and a bloodbath

  • Date: 09/05/2024
  • Author: Emma Doyle
People displaced at Gaza

ActionAid Ireland has called on Israel to abandon its catastrophic plan for a full-scale invasion of Rafah with reports of thousands of terrified citizens fleeing the southern Gazan city as airstrikes intensify and aid delivery is disrupted.

ActionAid Ireland CEO, Karol Balfe, said it is now imperative that all states do everything in their power to prevent further military assault in Rafah. “The ongoing military offensive in Rafah is already having a devastating impact on its starved and traumatised residents, thousands of whom have been forced to flee for the fourth, fifth, sixth time or more time in seven months. The number of deaths and injuries is rising, and the humanitarian situation is worsening as aid delivery is disrupted.  The international community has repeatedly warned that this cannot be allowed to take place. Now is the time to act.”  
Ms Balfe said as negotiations resume today, a permanent ceasefire is of the utmost importance and the only way to put an end to the killing and the horrific humanitarian crisis in Gaza. There were reports that near continuous shelling in some parts of the city has left dozens dead or injured, with medics at the Kuwaiti Hospital in western Rafah saying they had received the bodies of 35 people, and 129 wounded in the last 24 hours alone. 
Thousands of people – including ActionAid staff and partners – are fleeing after evacuation orders were issued for the eastern part of the city by Israel on Monday. There is nowhere safe for them to go, nor do areas which have been designated as ’safe zones’ have the infrastructure or capacity to receive them. Al-Mawasi, for example is already hugely overcrowded with more than 400,000 people living there.

She added: “If the Israeli military continues with a full-scale ground invasion of Rafah, it will be full blown disaster. There is no doubt that an unthinkable number of men, women and children will die. People in Rafah are living in full blown panic and terror. It would be indefensible to order the evacuation of more than a million people from the area when there is nowhere safe for them to go, nor with the capacity to receive them. Any attempt to do so may well amount to forcible transfer  a grave violation of international humanitarian law and a war crime.” 

A joint briefing note by NGOs says no aid has entered Gaza through its two key crossings at all yesterday. While the Israeli military say the Kerem Shalom crossing reopened today, the Rafah crossing – which was seized by the military on Monday – remains closed. With much of the population facing catastrophic levels of hunger, any reduction in aid risks pushing people further towards famine. Fuel, which is essential for hospitals and for trucks to be able to distribute aid within Gaza, is already running dangerously low.

Rafah-based Amjad Al Shawa,the director of the Palestinian NGOs Network (PNGO) – an umbrella organisation of 30 Palestinian NGOs and a partner of ActionAid Palestine, told ActionAid in a voice note about his fears regarding the situation in Rafah.

“We have serious concerns regarding the military land operation in Rafah and the Israeli control of Rafah crossing…we warn [against] famine and these continuous Israeli [military] attacks on the Palestinian civilians. At the same time the shortage of medication, food itemsand other needed items, which will lead to [further] deepening of the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza.

He said:  “We are calling urgently on the international community to act in order to stop such a military incursionand the Israeli [military’s] massacres on the Palestinian people, and to open all the crossings for the passengers and for different humanitarian and commercial items. Also, mainly for the patients and the injured people who are in bad need [of] medical treatment outside the Gaza strip as this will lead to [deteriorating] their health conditions.” 

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