News Release

Humanitarian Groups Warn of Israeli “Bloodbath” in Rafah

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The International Court of Justice announced on Tuesday that South Africa has filed an “urgent request for additional measures” in their genocide case against Israel, citing the “unprecedented military offensive against Rafah” and recent statements by Benjamin Netanyahu. See IPA news release from Tuesday.

Decensored News reports: “The request quotes the International Committee of the Red Cross and NGOs operating on the ground such as the Norwegian Refugee Council and Save the Children, who have warned of a ‘bloodbath;’ that ‘expanded hostilities in Rafah could collapse the humanitarian response‘ and that ‘what happens next’ would ‘be beyond our worst nightmares.'”

See the most recent statement from Norwegian Refugee Council: “Gaza: Israel’s military operation in Rafah would be fatal for displaced civilians and humanitarian aid,” which states: “An expansion of hostilities could turn Rafah into a zone of bloodshed and destruction that people won’t be able to escape,” said Angelita Caredda, the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Middle East and North Africa Regional Director. “Conditions in Rafah are already dire, and a full-scale Israeli military operation will lead to even more loss of civilian life. Aid workers have been grappling with insecurity and insufficient aid for months. Attacks in areas where they provide food, water and shelter means this life-saving support will be impeded, if not entirely stopped.”

The group notes: “Rafah, 63 square kilometres in size, is now the most overcrowded governorate in the Gaza Strip with an average density of over 22,200 per square kilometre, five times its pre-conflict levels. Increased access to life saving assistance is crucial for the 1.4 million Palestinians now crammed into the area — or two-thirds of Gaza’s population.

“Any further deterioration in humanitarian conditions in Rafah would be catastrophic as disease and starvation already persist among the displaced population. An NRC assessment of nine shelters hosting 27,400 civilians in Rafah found that people had no drinking water, showers, or personal hygiene items. The shelters operated at 150 per cent capacity as hundreds of displaced people spent the night on the street. Diseases, including hepatitis A, gastroenteritis, diarrhoea, smallpox, lice, influenza, were reported in every location assessed. Expanded hostilities in Rafah could collapse the humanitarian response.

“Military ground operations in and around residential areas in Khan Younis have also intensified, where the latest relocation orders have pushed people to the outskirts of the governorate and into Rafah. These relocation orders have not included guarantees of safety, accommodation and return, and therefore amount to forcible transfer.”

“Repeated relocation orders issued by Israeli authorities over four months of hostilities have forced tens of thousands of people to flee multiple times to areas that are not safe and where shelter is not available,” said Caredda. “Palestinians are being pushed into tiny corners, narrow alleys, and overcrowded shelters while residential areas continue to be pounded.”

“Israel originally designated some of the relocation areas as ‘safe zones’, but they have been heavily bombarded. The UN estimates that 67 percent of the Gaza Strip, or 246 square kilometres, has been placed under evacuation orders.”

Contact:
NRC global media hotline: media@nrc.no, @nrc_norway
Ahmed Bayram, Middle East Media Adviser, in Amman: ahmed.bayram@nrc.no