Grave concerns raised over Israel’s plans for ground invasion of Rafah
Plaid Cymru Westminster leader, Liz Saville Roberts MP, has raised grave concerns over a planned Israeli ground invasion of Rafah in the south of Gaza, and renewed her party’s calls for a ceasefire.
The town was hit by airstrikes overnight, with Israel signalling its intention to carry out a ground offensive in the area.
The town, on the border with Egypt, is one of the few regions not yet targeted by an Israeli ground offensive and is providing refuge to more than half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population who have fled fighting elsewhere.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said sending troops into Rafah is necessary to eliminate Hamas.
He announced on Friday that he had asked the military to prepare to enter Rafah and evacuate hundreds of thousands of people.
Ms Saville Roberts said that the prospect of a ground invasion would be “unimaginable” and “must be resisted in the strongest terms.”
She added: “Many of those now sheltering in Rafah are doing so having been forced to flee their homes elsewhere. It is unimaginable that they now face an imminent military incursion; it must be resisted in the strongest terms.
“With more than 28,100 now dead since the start of this conflict, the international community can no longer afford to sit on its hands while this tragedy unfolds.
“I urge the UK Government to play its part in ensuring an immediate ceasefire. The international community must come together to enable the safe release of the hostages and put an end to the collective punishment of the Palestinian people.”
Foreign Secretary Lord David Cameron said: “We are very concerned about what is happening in Rafah because, let’s be clear, the people there, many of whom have moved four, five, six times before getting there.
“It really, we think, is impossible to see how you can fight a war amongst these people, there is nowhere for them to go.
“They can’t go south into Egypt, they can’t go north and back to their homes because many have been destroyed.
“So we are very concerned about the situation and we want Israel to stop and think seriously before it takes any further action.
“But above all, what we want is an immediate pause in the fighting. We want that pause to lead to a ceasefire, a sustainable ceasefire without a return to further fighting. That is what should happen now.
“We need to get those hostages out, including the British nationals. We need to get the aid in. The best way to do that is to stop the fighting now and turn that into a permanent, sustainable ceasefire.”
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We are obviously deeply concerned about the prospect of a military offensive in Rafah.
“Over half of Gaza’s population are sheltering there and that crossing is vital to ensuring aid can reach the people who desperately need it.”
21 different agencies and organisations have written to the Prime Minister urging him to call for an immediate ceasefire and an end to the offensive in Rafah, as well as the suspension of all arms export licences for sales Israel.
The list of signees includes ActionAid UK, Cafod, Christian Aid and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights.
“We, as agencies united, attempted to work together with the Government towards leveraging what the UK can do to halt these atrocities. We are losing confidence in ministers as the UK appears utterly incapable of restraining Israel in its current attempts,” the letter says.
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