UN Security Council Convenes Over Devastating Israeli Strike in Rafah

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In a harrowing turn of events, the United Nations Security Council is set to meet on Tuesday to address the escalating crisis in Rafah. This urgent session comes in the wake of a deadly Israeli airstrike that tragically claimed the lives of 45 Palestinians who had sought refuge in a camp and left 200 others wounded.

The airstrike on Sunday has intensified the already dire humanitarian situation in Rafah. Medical personnel and residents reported additional Israeli airstrikes in the same area on Tuesday, compounding the suffering. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees has sounded the alarm, revealing that over one million people have fled Rafah in the past three weeks amid relentless bombardments and deteriorating living conditions.

Angela Weiss/AFP

“This crisis is unfolding with no safe haven in sight, amidst continuous shelling, severe shortages of food and water, and appalling living conditions,” the agency stated on X. “Each passing day, delivering aid and protection becomes an increasingly unattainable goal.”

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths condemned the Sunday attack as “utterly unacceptable,” dismissing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s description of the incident as a “tragic mistake.”

“For the people of Gaza, there’s no room for debate,” Griffiths asserted. “Whether deemed a war crime or a tragic mistake, the devastating impact remains the same. This latest atrocity epitomizes the cruelty faced by the people of Gaza.”

Global Condemnation and Urgent Calls for Action

Griffiths emphasized the UN’s prior warnings about the potential for mass casualties in Rafah, underscoring the absence of any safe zones or humanitarian corridors in Gaza. Despite Israel’s claims of targeting senior Hamas militants, the toll on civilians has been catastrophic.

© Eyad BABA / AFP

Netanyahu addressed the Israeli parliament, stating, “Despite our best efforts to avoid civilian casualties, a tragic mistake occurred last night. We are investigating the incident.” He reiterated the necessity of the offensive to neutralize Hamas’s ability to threaten Israel.

The international community has reacted with shock and outrage. Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, described the scenes from Rafah as “horrific,” criticizing the continued use of tactics that have resulted in high civilian casualties. Turk urged Israel to comply with an International Court of Justice order to cease its operations in Rafah and called on Palestinian armed groups to halt indiscriminate rocket attacks and release the remaining hostages held by Hamas.

European Council President Charles Michel echoed these sentiments, condemning the strikes as “horrendous” and urging an immediate halt to the offensive.

The White House National Security Council expressed its sorrow over the “heartbreaking” images from Rafah. While acknowledging Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas, the Council emphasized the need for utmost caution to protect civilians.

Dire Humanitarian Crisis and Growing Calls for Ceasefire

The situation in Gaza has been described as “hell on earth” by the UN agency for Palestinian refugees, which continues to grapple with the immense humanitarian crisis. Fires ignited by the airstrikes have further endangered displaced families seeking shelter.

AP/Jehad Alshrafi

Calls for a ceasefire have grown louder, with French President Emmanuel Macron demanding an immediate cessation of hostilities and adherence to international law. Macron expressed outrage over the civilian casualties and stressed the absence of safe areas in Rafah.

The Israel-Hamas conflict, ignited by a Hamas attack on Israel on October 7 that killed 1,200 people and led to the capture of approximately 250 hostages, has since spiraled into a brutal counteroffensive. According to the Gaza Health Ministry, over 36,000 Palestinians, including both civilians and combatants, have lost their lives in the ensuing violence.

As the UN Security Council convenes, the world watches with bated breath, hoping for a resolution that can bring an end to the suffering and pave the way for peace in the region.

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