The Israeli Prime Minister has signalled to ground forces that an offensive on Rafah in Gaza, Palestine, is imminent. In response, Meinie Nicolai, Médecins Sans Frontières Director General, warns of the potentially catastrophic consequences.
“Israel’s declared ground offensive on Rafah would be catastrophic and must not proceed. As aerial bombardment of the area continues, more than a million people, many living in tents and makeshift shelters, now face a dramatic escalation in this ongoing massacre.
Nowhere in Gaza is safe, and repeated forced displacements have pushed people to Rafah, where they are trapped in a tiny patch of land and have no options.
Since 7 October 2023, our medical teams and patients have been forced to evacuate nine different health care facilities in the Gaza Strip, after coming under fire from tanks, artillery, fighter jets, snipers and ground troops, or being subject to an evacuation order.
Medical staff and patients have been arrested, abused and killed. All of this has taken place in full view of world leaders. It has now become near impossible to work in Gaza, all our attempts to provide lifesaving care to Palestinians have been diminished by Israel's conduct of hostilities.
The needs are overwhelming and the situation requires a safe humanitarian response at a much larger scale.
We call on the government of Israel to immediately halt this offensive, and to all supporting governments including the United States, to take concrete action to bring about a complete and sustained ceasefire. Political rhetoric is not enough.”