Friday 1 December 2023 - 11:31

‘Israeli’ Assault on Southern Gaza Could Push 1m Refugees to Egypt Border

Story Code : 1099476
‘Israeli’ Assault on Southern Gaza Could Push 1m Refugees to Egypt Border
After a second overnight visit to Gaza where he met overwhelmed Palestinians, Philippe Lazzarini urged ‘Israel’ to think through the consequences of an offensive in the south if the temporary truce in the fighting is not extended.

“We already have a staggering human tragedy,” he said in an interview, adding the prospect of a further assault feels him with deep anxiety and foreboding.

“We are in a race against time, and already disease is becoming as much a threat as the bombardment […] The combined impact of the bombardment and the siege has already pushed people to the south, if there is fighting there is indeed a higher likelihood that they might wish to flee further south and beyond the border.”

Lazzarini has become one of the most outspoken UN humanitarian officials in recent weeks, urging ‘Israel’ to abide by the rules of law and proportionality.

He is concerned about the impact of fighting in the south, which he described as “completely overloaded” after ‘Israel’ urged civilians in the north of the territory to move south for their own safety.

“The Gaza Strip was already known as being one of the most crowded places in the world. And now, you have the majority of the population moved towards the south,” he said.

“So, you have the almost complete concentration of the population in half the territory – an area that cannot support such a presence because of even the lack of water.”

“It simply cannot cater to so many people. Remember people from Gaza City and the north have been asked to go to the south because they were told the south would be safer. Yet a large proportion have been killed in the south.”

Lazzarini said “We have 1 million people, 1 million people in UN installations, including 100,000 in the north. They come to seek protection.”

“Their locations are known, and despite that, nearly 100 installations have been hit directly or indirectly. And this has led to the deaths, the killing of more than 200 people, and the injuries are more than 900 in UN installations.”

“Now, we are told, or we hear, that people should move further south-west if the offensive takes place in Khan Yunis […] but you cannot declare an area safe unilaterally in a war zone.”