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Israeli attacks on Rafah and Northern Gaza escalate as famine warnings grow stronger

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Aftermath of bombing in Gaza. Israeli forces resumed their bombing of Northern Gaza, where Palestinians civilians are already reeling under a desperate and rapidly declining humanitarian situation. Picture: Wafa news via Peoples Dispatch

By Peoples Dispatch

Israeli airstrikes and ground bombardment in the southern Gazan city of Rafah have significantly intensified in the last 24 hours, raising fears of a full scale Israeli invasion. Virtually the entire international community, including Israel’s western allies, such as the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, as well as the United Nations, rights groups, and aid agencies have repeatedly urged Israel to not go ahead with the invasion of Rafah. More than one million Palestinians displaced from other parts of Gaza are taking refuge in the city and are effectively trapped.

The Israeli attacks have also continued unabated across the rest of Gaza, particularly in Northern and Central Gaza. In Rafah, at least 14 Palestinians have been killed, along with dozens of others injured. Dozens were killed and injured in attacks on the Jabalya refugee camp, the Nuseirat refugee camp, Gaza city, and on other parts of Gaza.

The latest Palestinian Ministry of Health statistics state that at least 93 Palestinians were killed and another 142 injured in the last day, taking the overall death toll to 31,819, with the injured tally also increasing to at least 73,934.

The Israeli bombardment of Northern Gaza has sounded alarms among rights groups, aid agencies, and the United Nations, as Palestinian civilians in Northern Gaza are already suffering from extreme levels of hunger and starvation. In the last several weeks, over two dozen people died from malnutrition and dehydration.

The report released March 18 by the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), warned of the grave and imminent danger of Northern Gaza falling into the grips of a famine by the month of May if there is no immediate cessation of hostilities accompanied by a massive increase in the supply and delivery of humanitarian aid.

The rest of Gaza is also expected to be hit by a famine by July this year if the conditions don’t drastically improve. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, has today also denounced the situation in Northern Gaza, saying that, “the imminent famine in the northern part of Gaza is an entirely man-made disaster. We must act now to prevent the unthinkable, the unacceptable, the unjustifiable.”

Additionally, the UN human rights office’s spokesperson, Jeremy Laurence, today said that, “the extent of Israel’s continued restrictions on entry of aid into Gaza, together with the manner in which it continues to conduct hostilities, may amount to the use of starvation as a method of war, which is a war crime”.

Regarding the ongoing ceasefire talks, Qatar, the mediator of the talks between Hamas and Israel, has expressed cautious optimism but has reported that no significant breakthrough has been reached so far. Israel has continued to create difficulties and barriers towards achieving a ceasefire agreement, in rejecting the key demands of the Palestinian resistance for a permanent ceasefire and withdrawal from Gaza.

Israeli officials have also refused to take the planned invasion of Rafah off the table, in spite of growing international pressure and condemnation. Israeli leaders and government officials, including the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, have insisted that the invasion will go ahead, ignoring warnings of the impending humanitarian disaster which could unfold as a result.

This article was first published on Peoples Dispatch