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Russia warns Israeli ground invasion in Rafah could lead to 'ethnic cleansing' of Palestinians

Saturday, Russia expressed concerns about Israel's potential ground invasion in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, warning that it could result in the displacement of Palestinians. Addressing the audience at the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Türkiye, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated that Gaza is currently facing a devastating situation with no clear resolution in sight.

Anadolu Agency WORLD
Published March 02,2024

Russia said on Saturday that Israel's plans for a ground invasion in the city of Rafah, southern Gaza Strip could lead to "ethnic cleansing" of the Palestinians.

Speaking at a news conference on the sidelines of the Antalya Diplomacy Forum in Türkiye, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said: "A real tragedy is taking place in Gaza, which has no end in sight."

There are a lot of initiatives on a cease-fire and humanitarian pause, however, the statements of the Israeli leadership show they do not change their goal of "clean up Gaza completely, eliminate Hamas," he said.

"Even the Western representatives wonder how can this be done, to eliminate Hamas by 100%. Israeli generals and ministers say that everyone in Gaza is Hamas. It is then necessary to destroy all the inhabitants of Gaza," he said.

Lavrov said Moscow is concerned about Israeli plans to carry out a military operation in Rafah, where two-thirds of the Gazans are seeking shelter from violence.

"If the operation of Rafah begins, a huge number of refugees will leave for Egypt, and the Egyptians have repeatedly stated that this is unacceptable. This will be ethnic cleansing in fact," he stressed.

"The Israeli leadership has stated that it is not about creating a Palestinian state, but about ensuring the security of the Jewish state of Israel. This is fully contrary to all UN decisions, it is contrary to common sense, it is contrary to justice. This means that Palestinians can be thrown out of the lands where their ancestors lived and all their rights are despised," Lavrov added.

The diplomat also urged to pay more attention to the situation in the West Bank, where Israeli army raids against Palestinians have become more frequent.

Israel launched a military offensive on the Gaza Strip after the Oct. 7, 2023 Hamas incursion, which Tel Aviv said killed about 1,200 people.

At least 30,320 Palestinians have since been killed and 71,533 others injured besides mass destruction, displacement and shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip, leaving its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of starvation.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which, in an interim ruling in January, ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.