Prevent Israel from unleashing ground offensive on Rafah, Pakistan urges UNSC

UNITED NATIONS   -  Pakistan has called for preventing Israel’s planned offensive on Rafah, saying it will further intensify the suffering of the Gaza Palestinians and risks widening the conflict. “Israel’s planned offensive in Rafah must be stopped,” Ambassador Usman Jadoon, deputy permanent representative of Pakistani to the UN, told the UN Security Council on Tuesday, while underscoring the threat of famine.

The Pakistani envoy also warned against the imminent threat of famine in the warravaged Gaza Strip, pointing out Israel’s ongoing 5-month genocidal military campaign in Gaza has killed 30,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and displaced the entire 2.3 million population of Gaza., with half a million people facing starvation.

Compounding the already dire situation, he said Israeli forces not only leveled Gaza’s cities, they have also brazenly destroyed agricultural land and Gaza’s fishing fleet. Earlier, three United Nations humanitarian officials warned that there is a high risk of conflict-induced famine in the Gaza Strip if the war does not stop soon. “If nothing is done, we fear widespread famine in Gaza is almost inevitable, and the conflict, which since October has claimed the lives of almost 30,000 people and injured more than 70,000, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, will have many more victims,” said Ramesh Rajasingham, director of the coordination division in the U.N. humanitarian office. Rajasingham said at least 576,000 people in Gaza — 25% of the population — are one step away from famine, and practically the entire population is relying on insufficient humanitarian food assistance to survive.

“Unfortunately, as grim as the picture we see today, there is every possibility for further deterioration,” he said. “Gaza is seeing the worst level of child malnutrition anywhere in the world,” said Carl Skau, the World Food Programme’s deputy executive director. “One child in every six under the age of 2 is acutely malnourished.” Maurizio Martina, assistant director-general of the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization, explained how the entire food supply chain has been impacted by the war. Farmers have been forced by Israel to evacuate their land or fled shelling that has destroyed crops; cattle and poultry are dying from hunger or killed in bombings; fishing is prohibited; and ground water is contaminated. In his statement, Ambassador Jadoon, said, “Israel’s indiscriminate killing of civilians; its destruction of civilian objects indispensible for human survival; and the use of starvation as a weapon of war are gross violations of international humanitarian law, including ‘plausibly’ the Genocide Convention.”

“The demonization of UNRWA and the UN must be halted,” the Pakistani envy said t hat donors who have suspended support to UNRWA must reverse their decisions, and all others should expand their assistance. All avenues of aid delivery and supply chains must be opened and utilized.” The Security Council, he said, must demand the immediate withdrawal of Israeli occupation forces from Gaza and lifting of the 17 year old blockade, and consider deploying an impartial international mechanism for the protection of Palestinian civilians in Gaza and the West Bank and to ensure unimpeded humanitarian assistance and subsequent reconstruction support to them.

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