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Rafah invasion will cause 'humanitarian catastrophe', says Saudi Arabia : Middle East crisis live

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Published Time: 10.02.2024 - 15:40:14 Modified Time: 10.02.2024 - 15:40:14

Mahmud Hams/AFP Chosen by us to get you up to speed at a glanceIsrael’s planned operation in overcrowded Rafah would cause a “humanitarian catastrophe,” Saudi Arabia has said as it urged the United Nations Security Council to intervene

: Mahmud Hams/AFP

Chosen by us to get you up to speed at a glance

Israel’s planned operation in overcrowded Rafah would cause a “humanitarian catastrophe,” Saudi Arabia has said as it urged the United Nations Security Council to intervene.

The Kingdom’s foreign ministry “warned of the extremely dangerous repercussions of storming and targeting” Rafah and affirmed its “categorical rejection and strong condemnation of their forced deportation”.

“This continued violation of international law and international humanitarian law confirms the necessity of convening the Security Council urgently to prevent Israel from causing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe,” the ministry said.

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, on Friday ordered the army to prepare to evacuate civilians from Rafah ahead of a planned ground operation against Hamas in the city.

Follow the latest updates below.

Israeli air strikes on Saturday hit several sites on the outskirts of Syria’s capital, Damascus, the Syrian military said.

The strikes came from the direction of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Syrian state news agency SANA reported, citing an unnamed military official. It added that air defenses shot down some missiles and those that landed resulted in “some material losses.”

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that Israel’s planned army operation in overcrowded Rafah would cause a “humanitarian catastrophe” and called for the United Nations Security Council to intervene.

The kingdom “warned of the extremely dangerous repercussions of storming and targeting” Rafah and affirmed its “categorical rejection and strong condemnation of their forced deportation”, in a foreign ministry statement carried by state media.

“This continued violation of international law and international humanitarian law confirms the necessity of convening the Security Council urgently to prevent Israel from causing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe,” the statement added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ordered the army to prepare to evacuate civilians from Rafah ahead of a planned ground operation against Hamas in the city.

Relatives found the body on Saturday of a 6-year-old Palestinian girl who had begged Gaza rescuers to send help after being trapped by Israeli military fire, along with the bodies of five of her family members and two ambulance workers who had gone to save her.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society accused Israel of deliberately targeting the ambulance it sent to rescue Hind Rajab after she had spent hours on the phone to dispatchers begging for help with the sound of shooting echoing around.

“The occupation deliberately targeted the Red Crescent crew despite prior coordination to allow the ambulance to arrive at the site to rescue Hind,” the Red Crescent said in a statement.

Israel’s military did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on the Red Crescent statement.

Three senior Hamas officials have been killed after an attack on their vehicle in the Tel al-Sultan neighborhood, west of Rafah, Israeli media reports.

Those killed were members of Hamas’ police force, including the director of investigations Ahmed al-Yakoubi, his deputy Ayman al-Rantisi, and Ibrahim Shatt. 

It comes as Israeli air strikes pounded densely crowded Rafah on Saturday, despite warnings from the US that the operation would be a humanitarian “disaster”. 

 

This week marks the one-month anniversary of the UK’s involvement in an international coalition involved in airstrikes against Yemen, repelling attacks from Houthi militants against cargo ships, and keeping the Bab al-Mandab Strait in the Red Sea open, writes Sam Goodman

As we reflect on this anniversary the question that should loom large is why the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the world’s largest exporter of goods, remains unwilling to offer financial, diplomatic, or military support in defending this vital global trade route.

Hamas on Saturday claimed that there could be “tens of thousands” of dead and injured if the Israeli military attacked Rafah, in the far south of the Gaza Strip.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week said he had ordered troops to prepare to go in to the city, crowded with displaced Palestinians, as it hunts down those responsible for the deadly October 7 attacks on southern Israel.

It is understood that four Hamas battalions are currently stationed there. Hamas said in a statement that any military action would have catastrophic repercussion that “may lead to tens of thousands of martyrs and injured if Rafah... is invaded”.

The announcement has prompted concern from foreign governments including the United States and aid agencies grappling with a growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza as a result of the war.

Israel’s army has deployed some AI-enabled military technology in combat for the first time in Gaza, raising fears about the use of autonomous weapons in modern warfare.

The army has hinted at what the new tech is being used for, with spokesman Daniel Hagari saying last month that Israel’s forces were operating “above and underground simultaneously”.

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