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Netherlands voices opposition to looming Israeli ground offensive in Rafah

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published February 11,2024
(AA File Photo)

The Netherlands on Sunday expressed its strong opposition to a looming Israeli ground offensive in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip.

Noting that Rafah hosts a vast number of Palestinians who fled from other parts of the besieged enclave of Gaza, Foreign Minister Hanke Bruins Slot said on X: "Hard to see how large-scale military operations in such a densely populated area would not lead to many civilian casualties and a bigger humanitarian catastrophe."

"This is unjustifiable," she stressed.

"It is of the utmost importance that negotiations quickly lead to a temporary humanitarian ceasefire, and eventually to a sustained cessation of hostilities," she said.

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to submit a dual plan to evacuate Palestinian residents from Rafah, home to more than 1 million residents seeking refuge from war, and to defeat the remaining "Hamas battalions."

Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah as Israel pounded the rest of the enclave following an Oct. 7 incursion by the Palestinian resistance group, Hamas. The ensuing Israeli bombardment has killed more than 28,000 victims and caused mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

The Israeli offensive has left 85% of Gaza's population internally displaced amid acute shortages of food, clean water and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure was damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

In late 2023 South Africa filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of failing to uphold its commitments under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The UN court, in its interim ruling in January, ruled that South Africa's claims are plausible. It ordered provisional measures for Israel's government to desist from genocidal acts, and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.