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UN rights chief ‘deeply distressed’ by fast-deteriorating conditions in Gaza

13 May 2024 - 19:27

The United Nations rights chief Volker Turk said Sunday he is “deeply distressed” by the fast-deteriorating conditions in Gaza as Israeli forces intensified airstrikes in the northern part of the Palestinian enclave, Anadolu Agency reports.

“I call on Israel and Palestinian armed groups urgently to agree to a cease-fire, and all hostages must be released at once,” said Turk.
He said he was “deeply distressed” by the fast-deteriorating conditions in the besieged Palestinian territory as Israeli forces intensified airstrikes on Jabaliya and Beit Lahiya in the north and parts of central Gaza.
“At the same time, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are fleeing Rafah after the Israeli Defense Forces ordered further evacuations from the southern city, leading afresh to massive displacement of an already profoundly traumatized population,” said the UN human rights chief.
Turk also expressed concern at reports of indiscriminate rocket fire from Gaza.
He said that since May 6, when the IDF issued an evacuation order to Palestinians in eastern Rafah, more than 278,000 people have been displaced.
“This includes people with disabilities, the chronically ill, older people, the injured, pregnant women, and many others who are physically unable to move without help.”
The UN rights chief said that the latest evacuation orders affect around a million people in Rafah.
“So where should they go now?” asked Turk.
‘No safe place in Gaza’
“There is no safe place in Gaza! These exhausted, famished people, many of whom have been displaced many times already, have no good options.”
He added that other towns across Gaza, including Khan Younis, which is supposed to receive those who are being displaced from Rafah right now, have already been “reduced to rubble,” and remain under attack, thus not safe.
Turk said he could not see how the latest evacuation orders or a “full assault,” in an area with an extremely dense civilian presence, can be reconciled with the binding requirements of international humanitarian law and with the two sets of binding provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“At this desperate moment, exacerbated by acts impeding the entry of humanitarian aid in Gaza through the three crossings, there is a dire shortage of fuel, which is hindering everything,” said Turk.
Israel’s chokehold on aid and fuel hindrances has disrupted everything from transportation to the distribution of food, operation of hospitals and emergency services, sewage treatment, and telecommunications.
“I am also very worried about the safety of humanitarian workers in the affected areas,” said Turk.
“I reiterate. A full-scale offensive on Rafah cannot take place.”
He called on all states with influence to do everything in their power to prevent it — to protect civilian lives.
Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip following a cross-border attack by Palestinian resistance group, Hamas, on Oct. 7, which killed some 1,200 people.
Over 35,000 Palestinians, most of them women and children, have died since while nearly 78,600 have been wounded, according to Gazan health authorities.

Story Code: 635145

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Taghribnews (TNA)