UNICEF warns of catastrophe if Israel attacks Rafah


The UN children’s agency has warned that a planned Israeli ground invasion of southern Gaza’s Rafah would be a catastrophe.

In an article in the British daily, The Guardian, UNICEF Spokesperson James Elder said that he saw “new graveyards fill with children” in the blockaded Strip.

He also condemned Israel’s targeting of humanitarian aid workers in the Palestinian territory.

“Only a few weeks ago the world was decrying the senseless killing of seven aid workers in a convoy for the World Central Kitchen. It was another grim milestone for Gaza,” he said.

“A week later, a UNICEF vehicle was hit, again when trying to reach those in the most desperate need,” Elder said, further adding that the “outrage over attacks fades amid new emerging tragedies” in Gaza.

“In my 20 years with the United Nations, I have never seen devastation like that I saw in the Gaza Strip cities of Khan Younis and (the) Gaza City. And now we are told to expect the same via an incursion in Rafah,” he said.

He then warned the Israeli authorities against another incursion that could cause more civilian deaths.

Elder said that Rafah, which Israel previously claimed was “safe” and where approximately 1.5 million civilians have sought refuge, would collapse if it was militarily targeted.

He also pointed out that approximately 600,000 children live in Rafah and that it was “home to what is now Gaza’s largest remaining hospital.”

The official added that “Gaza needs an immediate and long-lasting humanitarian ceasefire.”

“How many times have we said – indeed, pleaded for – that? And we must see the release of all hostages, safe and unrestricted access for humanitarian relief, and more crossings for that relief,” the UNICEF spokesperson said.

“The world has certainly been warned about Rafah. It remains to be seen how many eyes stay, or are forced, shut,” said Elder.

Israel has waged a genocidal war on Gaza since a cross-border incursion by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023, killed around 1,200 people.

It has since killed more than 34,500 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured thousands of others amid mass destruction and severe shortages of necessities.

Israel has also imposed a crippling siege on the seaside enclave, leaving most of its population, particularly residents of northern Gaza, on the verge of famine.__The Nation