We are appalled by last night’s heavy bombardment on Rafah, which reportedly killed at least 67 people, including women and children. We are relieved to learn that two hostages have been returned to their families. However, the indiscriminate killing of civilians in order to achieve this aim may constitute another serious violation of international humanitarian law upon a civilian population that has endured months of indiscriminative bombing and decades of collective punishment.
An immediate and permanent ceasefire is the only way to ensure the safety of both the people of Gaza and the hostages, and to allow for negotiations about their release and to start conversations about a peace process.
We remain horrified about the prospect of a full ground invasion in Rafah. Such an attack would be catastrophic beyond words for the more than one million displaced people seeking shelter there. It would add to months of senseless attacks on civilians, hospitals, medical personnel, aid workers, journalists and civilian infrastructure, all of which should be protected under international law.
Any attacks would undoubtedly result in a huge number of deaths, considering how hugely overcrowded the area is. Since Rafah is the main entry point and operations centre for aid, it would also likely see humanitarian aid operations in Gaza come to a complete halt, against the recent order of the ICJ. This would have unimaginable consequences for a population that is already on the brink of famine and barely surviving amid inhumane living conditions.
We demand that governments around the world do everything in their power to prevent a further onslaught in Rafah and push all parties to agree to an immediate and permanent ceasefire, now. The senseless violence that has been allowed to take place is a collective stain on our common humanity. The international community holds the fate of people in Rafah in their hands. It must stand up for them.
For media requests, please email Jenna.Farineau@actionaid.org or call 202-731-9593.
Spokespeople are available:
- Niranjali Amerasinghe, Executive Director of ActionAid USA
- Riham Jafari, Coordinator of Advocacy and Communication for ActionAid Palestine
ActionAid is a global federation working with more than 41 million people living in more than 71 of the world’s poorest countries. We want to see a just, fair, and sustainable world, in which everybody enjoys the right to a life of dignity, and freedom from poverty and oppression. We work to achieve social justice and gender equality and to eradicate poverty.