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Saudi warns of 'catastrophe' if Israel moves on Rafah

 VB  Desk

VB Desk

Sun, 11 Feb 24

Saudi Arabia said on Saturday that Israel's planned army operation in overcrowded Rafah would cause a "humanitarian catastrophe" and called for the United Nations Security Council to intervene.

The kingdom "warned of the extremely dangerous repercussions of storming and targeting" Rafah and affirmed its "categorical rejection and strong condemnation of their forced deportation", in a foreign ministry statement carried by state media.

"This continued violation of international law and international humanitarian law confirms the necessity of convening the Security Council urgently to prevent Israel from causing an imminent humanitarian catastrophe," the statement added.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday ordered the army to prepare to evacuate civilians from Rafah ahead of a planned ground operation against Hamas in the city.

More than one million displaced Palestinians have taken refuge in the city in Gaza's far south, many sheltering in tents pushed up against the border with Egypt and the sea.

Saudi Arabia, home to the holiest sites in Islam, has never recognised Israel but had been considering to do so before the Israel-Hamas war broke out in October.

The conflict was triggered by Hamas attack on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Vowing to eliminate Hamas, Israel launched a massive military offensive in Gaza that the Hamas-run territory's health ministry says has killed at least 27,947 people, mostly women and children.

Riyadh has repeatedly called for a ceasefire while criticising Israeli "aggression" in Gaza.

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