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Rafah Offensive: MSF Warns Of Catastrophic Consequences

The international medical aid organisation Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) says any offensive on Rafah will be catastrophic for the estimated more than one million people currently crammed in Gaza’s southernmost governorate.

Israel's military has reportedly begun ordering Palestinians to leave parts of eastern Rafah ahead of an operation in the southern Gaza city. About 100,000 people are being directed to head for an "expanded humanitarian area" in Khan Younis and al-Mawasi.

“People in Rafah have been forced to endure dire conditions, with limited food and water, extremely limited access to medical care, and regular bombings, with nowhere safe to go and find refuge elsewhere if they attempted to flee Rafah. Many of them have already been displaced multiple times. A ground offensive will most certainly make delivering humanitarian assistance and providing medical care near impossible,” said Arunn Jegan, MSF Humanitarian Lead who returned to Australia from Palestine this week.

"An offensive on Rafah would also mean yet again that medical staff and patients would be put in danger and forced to leave medical facilities. We have been forced to leave nine healthcare facilities in Gaza since the beginning of the war.”

“We are already witnessing complete and utter devastation in Gaza. No one and nowhere is safe. More than 1.9 million people in Gaza—nearly 85 per cent of the population—are estimated to be forcibly displaced and living in unsafe, unhealthy conditions. Many of these displaced people had fled to Rafah. An Israeli ground offensive in Rafah would be yet another layer of disaster. We would witness more deaths, more devastation.

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“The strikes in Rafah are happening in complete defiance of worldwide calls for an enduring ceasefire. We have seen time and again in this war that the humanitarian principles and laws that States fought hard to implement, are being ransacked with impunity before our very eyes.

“Just as our world leaders condemned Hamas for their unforgiveable atrocities and killing of 1,200 people, Israel must follow international humanitarian law and cease its relentless and indiscriminate attacks, which have now claimed the lives of more than 34,000 Palestinians and caused horrific injuries to over 75,000 people.

“For now, a sustained ceasefire is the only way we can move forward. The Australian Government must apply diplomatic pressure and use all its power to ensure that Israel stops this catastrophic assault on civilians before the offensive gets underway”

About MSF in Gaza

MSF currently operates in three hospitals (Al-Aqsa hospital, Rafah Indonesian Field Hospital, and El-Emirati Maternity Hospital), one primary healthcare centre (Al-Shaboura clinic) and three healthcare facilities in Al Mawasi, in Rafah area.

Our teams are offering surgical support, wound care, physiotherapy, post-partum care, primary health care, vaccination, and mental health services, but systematic sieges and evacuation orders on various hospitals are pushing our activities onto an ever-smaller territory and limiting response.

MSF teams comprise 430 people, mainly Palestinian with 30 International mobile staff supporting. IMS staff are mostly based in Rafah (south Gaza), Khan Younis and Deir Al Balah (Middle Area) to support our Palestinian colleagues. Most of the team is composed of surgical and emergency staff, the rest offering logistic support and coordination.

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