WHO urges Israel to drop Rafah invasion plan ‘in name of humanity’

Mar 17, 2024

The head of the World Health Organization (WHO) Sunday implored Israel “in the name of humanity” not to begin an assault on Rafah, where the majority of Gaza’s population is fleeing.

“I’m gravely concerned about reports of an Israeli plan to proceed with a ground assault on Rafah,” WHO director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus posted on X.

“Further escalation of violence in this densely populated area would lead to many more deaths and suffering,” he added.

“In the name of humanity, we appeal to Israel not to proceed and instead to work towards peace.”

At least 31,553 Palestinians, mostly women, children, and adolescents, have died in the Israeli military onslaught since Oct. 7.

Tedros dismissed a so-called evacuation plan devised by the Israel ahead of Rafah’s invasion.

“The 1.2 million people in Rafah do not have anywhere safe to move to,” the WHO chief said.

“There are no fully functional, safe health facilities that they can reach elsewhere in Gaza,” he said, adding, “Many people are too fragile, hungry, and sick to be moved again…”

“This humanitarian catastrophe must not be allowed to worsen.”

A day earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced in a statement that he “approved plans for a military operation in Rafah, and the army is operationally preparing for it…”

The statement provided no details on the exact time and date of the assault, and rejected the latest ceasefire proposal put forward by the Gaza-based Hamas as “unrealistic.”

Provision of humanitarian aid to the Palestinians in the besieged territory and release of Israeli captives were among the terms of the truce deal, which has been discussed several times in the Egyptian capital of Cairo.