Thursday, June 13, 2024

“Monstrous atrocity,” world reacts to Israeli terror in Rafah

Photo: Reuters

At least 40 Palestinians, mostly women and children, were killed in one of the most heinous massacres carried out by the Israeli occupation forces in Rafah.

More than half of the Gazan population are sheltered in the region bordering Egypt, after being displaced from other localities due to Israel’s genocidal onslaught which began in October, last year. 

The air strikes took place in the Tel al-Sultan neighbourhood, where thousands of people were taking shelter, and came two days after the ICJ ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive.

As the death toll is destined to rise, according to various sources, international forums, human rights organisations and state officials from different parts of the world have condemned Israel’s unhinged carnage in Rafah.

Francesca Albanese, the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territory, criticised and called for action against Israel in strong words.

“More horror in the Gaza Ghetto. The Israeli occupation forces have bombed a camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah, causing plastic tents to catch fire and tragically burning people alive. This cruelty, along with blatant defiance of the international law and system, is unacceptable,” she wrote on X.

“The Gaza Genocide‌ will not easily end without external pressure: Israel must face sanctions, justice, suspension of agreements, trade, partnership and investments, as well as participation in international forums,” she added.

Medecins Sans Frontieres, also known as Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said it is “horrified” by Israelis attack on displaced Palestinians and that the “deadly event” shows once again that nowhere is safe in Gaza.

More than 15 dead bodies and dozens of wounded people were brought to a trauma stabilisation point in Gaza, run by the France-based medical charity organisation. 

MSF reiterated its call for an immediate and sustained ceasefire

The global humanitarian group ActionAid said it was “outraged and heartbroken by the recent attacks in West Rafah, where Israeli fighter jets launched eight missiles at makeshift shelters housing internally displaced persons (IDPs) next to UNRWA warehouses stocking vital aid”.

It added, “The images coming from our partners of burned bodies are a scar on the face of humanity and the global community, which so far has failed to protect the people of Gaza. One of our own ActionAid colleagues narrowly escaped this atrocity, having left the shelter just a day before the attack. But nobody’s safety is guaranteed in Gaza.”

The UN special rapporteur on the right to housing, Balakrishnan Rajagopal, called for action against Israel following its latest attack in Rafah.

“Attacking women and children while they cower in their shelters in Rafah is a monstrous atrocity. We need concerted global action to stop Israel’s actions now,” he said in a post on X.

Jeremy Corbyn, the former leader of the UK Labour Party and a human rights advocate, has labelled Israel’s bombing of a tent camp in Rafah a “monstrous failure of humanity” in a post on X.

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud, speaking at a Ministerial meeting hosted by Norway and Saudi Arabia in Brussels over the weekend warned Israel that “it is absolutely necessary that Israel must accept that it cannot exist without the existence of a Palestinian state.”

“Israel doesn’t get to decide whether or not the Palestinians have a right to self-determination. This is something that is enshrined in the UN’s charter and in international law,” he added. 

Responding to the incident, High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell said, last week’s World Court ruling on Gaza must be applied and the EU countries will discuss how to take action to implement the ruling, Reuters reported. 

Meanwhile, US Congressman Ro Khanna has called on the Israeli prime minister to end the assault on the besieged southern Gaza city.

“Netanyahu must immediately halt the military offensive into Rafah,” Khanna said in a post on X.

“The horrific loss of innocent lives today with the bombing of a refugee camp underscores the moral urgency of stopping the Rafah campaign,” added Khanna, a progressive Democrat from California.

Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares, addressing a news conference in Brussels with his Irish and Norwegian counterparts, said:

“Yesterday’s bombing [on Rafah] is one more day with innocent Palestinian civilians being killed.”

“This stresses what … the three of our counties have been calling for for a long time – an immediate ceasefire.”

“But the gravity is even larger because it comes after a decision taken by the International Court of Justice that, once again, I want to recall, that are binding and compulsory for all parties.”

“I think that this time, we have to raise our voice not only for an immediate ceasefire but also to back international law and the United Nations.”

Former UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness told Al Jazeera that it is a “tragedy” that hundreds of thousands of Palestinians think that they can take refuge “under the light blue UN flag” in Rafah.

Following last night’s bombardment of a tent camp in Rafah, he said the three judges at the pre-trial chamber at the International Criminal Court (ICC) “are as horrified as the rest of the world about these attacks”.

“Let us pray that we’re now going to move forward with arrest warrants against Gallant and Netanyahu; they need now to become wanted war criminals,” Gunness said.

“We’re now seeing blatant disregard for the Genocide Convention. There is no exception to the Genocide Convention. There are no excuses. This is the crime of crimes,” he said.

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas called for a general mobilisation against the “ongoing Zionist massacre against our people in the Gaza Strip”.

Hamas leadership has urged Palestinians to “rise up and march” against the “massacre” in Rafah.

“In light of the horrific Zionist massacre this evening committed by the criminal occupation army against the tents of the displaced… we call on the masses of our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem, the occupied territories, and abroad to rise up and march angrily against the ongoing Zionist massacre against our people in the sector,” it said in a statement.

Earlier, Israeli media had reported that Israel presented the truce mediators with two offers to move forward the prisoner exchange deal discussions. But on the contrary, reports suggest that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to obstruct the deal which could result in a ceasefire.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 35,984 Palestinians have been killed, and 80,643 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

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