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UN Secretary General warns Israel not to continue with Rafah assault

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Gaza, May 11: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned the Israeli military against expanding its assault on the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip.

“The situation in Rafah is on a knife’s edge, as airstrikes continue throughout southern Gaza,” said Guterres at a press conference in the Kenyan capital, Nairobi, on Friday.

“A massive ground attack in Rafah would lead to an epic humanitarian disaster and pull the plug on our efforts to support people as famine looms,” Guterres said.

More than one million Palestinians are seeking refuge in Rafah, half of them are children, Guterres pointed out.

Humanitarian volunteers in the border town reported devastating conditions. Hospitals would have to suspend their services within 24 hours if urgently needed new fuel was not delivered.

The Israeli armed forces had advanced into the eastern outskirts of Rafah with ground troops on Monday night. According to the UN figures from Friday, 1,10,000 people have since fled the city on the border with Egypt, which is overcrowded with refugees.

“I reiterate my appeal for the Government of Israel and the leadership of Hamas to demonstrate political courage and spare no effort to reach an agreement to stop the bloodshed – and to free the hostages,” Guterres said.

The military action is fuelling fears that this could be the start of a major offensive on the city. The US, Israel’s most important ally, is urgently warning the country against such a move.

IANS

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