Gaza's last refuge has become Israel's next target, with Palestinians sheltering in the southern city of Rafah fearing for their lives, ITV News's Sejal Karia reports
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said he was "deeply concerned" about Israel's plans to launch a military offensive in Rafah, a city in southern Gaza crammed with Palestinian refugees.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, on Saturday evening, Cameron said "over half of Gaza's population are sheltering in the area", adding: "The priority must be an immediate pause in the fighting to get aid in and hostages out, then progress towards a sustainable, permanent ceasefire."
His tweet comes as other international leaders - including Israel’s neighbors and key mediators - also warned of disaster and repercussions if its military launches a ground invasion of Rafah, where Israel says remaining Hamas strongholds are located.
Israeli airstrikes killed at least 44 Palestinians — including more than a dozen children — in Rafah, hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he asked the military to plan for the evacuation of hundreds of thousands of people ahead of an invasion.
He gave no details or timeline.
The announcement set off panic. More than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million people are packed into Rafah, which borders Egypt.
Many fled there after following Israeli evacuation orders that now cover two-thirds of the territory following the October 7 Hamas attack that sparked the war.
It’s not clear where they could go next.
Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said any Israeli ground offensive on Rafah would have “disastrous consequences,” and asserted that Israel aims to eventually force the Palestinians out of their land.
Egypt has warned that any movement of Palestinians into Egypt would threaten the four-decade-old peace treaty between Israel and Egypt.
Another mediator, Qatar, also warned of disaster, and Saudi Arabia warned of “very serious repercussions.”
There’s even increasing friction between Netanyahu and the United States, whose officials have said a Rafah invasion with no plan for civilians there would lead to disaster.
“The people in Gaza cannot disappear into thin air,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on X, adding that an Israeli offensive on Rafah would be a “humanitarian catastrophe in the making.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also chimed into the conversation on Sunday, saying an expected Israeli invasion of Rafah would be “catastrophic”.
He said on X: “There are over 1.4 million displaced Palestinians in Rafah and it is the gateway to aid for Gaza – an Israeli offensive there would be catastrophic."
“The fighting must stop now. We need a sustainable ceasefire.”
Netanyahu has previously said it is impossible to eliminate Hamas while leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah.
Despite the wave of criticism, he said he was determined to go ahead.
“Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying lose the war, keep Hamas there,” he told ABC News in comments that aired Saturday.
When asked where the civilians should go, Netanyahu said: “You know, the areas that we’ve cleared north of Rafah, plenty of areas there. But we are working out a detailed plan to do so.”
Israel has carried out almost daily airstrikes in Rafah, a rare entry point for Gaza’s badly needed food and medical supplies, during its current ground combat in Khan Younis just to the north.
Overnight into Saturday, three airstrikes on homes in the Rafah area killed 28 people, according to a health official and Associated Press journalists who saw bodies arriving at hospitals.
Each strike killed multiple members of a family, including a total of 10 children, the youngest 3 months old.
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