Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock has urged Israel to provide the civilian population with the best possible protection during the announced ground offensive against the Islamist Hamas in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.
The more than one million people in Rafah and the region there "can't simply disappear into thin air now. Instead, safe corridors are needed so that people can get to safety," said the Green politician in Berlin at a meeting with the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian Territories, Riad Malki. She will also make this clear during the discussions during her two-day visit to Israel, which begins this Wednesday. In addition, more humanitarian aid must be brought to the Gaza Strip.
Baerbock said she was particularly concerned about the Israeli government's announcement of a large-scale ground offensive in Rafah, emphasizing: "Israel has a right to defend itself against the brutal terror of Hamas in the sense of the right to self-defense like every other country in the world. And Israel, like every other country in the world, has a duty to respect international humanitarian law."
Demand for protective corridors
The people went to the south of the Gaza Strip, where there are already some tent cities, said Baerbock when asked about a report that Israel was proposing to set up tent cities for people to be evacuated from Rafah. "We have seen that hundreds of thousands of people have lost their homes in the last few months. And of course people have to have accommodation," added the Federal Foreign Minister. It is now a shared responsibility “that there must be safe places and protective corridors not only in theory, but also in reality.”
Malki called on Israel to refrain from an offensive against Rafah. The most important point is that the city is not destroyed. But if Israel insists on the offensive, it will be “all the more important to protect the people who are in Rafah.” Most of the people in Rafah fled from other parts of the Gaza Strip and sought protection there. That's why protective corridors are now needed to the north of the Gaza Strip, where the refugees came from.
People are prepared to live there in tents next to their destroyed houses until the destroyed houses are rebuilt, he said, according to the official translation. Gaza is turning into a medical epidemic area, Malki warned. The Gaza Strip must be declared a disaster area to enable immediate international intervention.
South Africa: UN court to examine offensive in Rafah
South Africa filed an urgent application with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to examine the legality of expanding Israeli military operations in Rafah, southern Gaza. Rafah is the last refuge for people in Gaza, the South African presidency said. The court should ensure that the rights of civilians are not violated in the announced ground offensive against the Islamist Hamas. The application was submitted on Monday.
South Africa is "deeply concerned" that the expansion of the military offensive in Rafah will lead to "large-scale killings, damage and destruction." "This would be a serious and irreparable violation of both the Genocide Convention and the Court's decision of January 26," the Presidency said.