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Canada, Australia, New Zealand demand immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

SYDNEY: Canada, Australia, and New Zealand jointly issued a statement on Thursday, urging for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza amidst reports of Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah.

Expressing grave concern over potential Israeli ground offensive into Rafah, the statement emphasized the catastrophic consequences such an operation could entail.

While acknowledging Israel’s intention to proceed with the offensive after civilian evacuation, the statement stressed the urgent necessity of a ceasefire.

The leaders urged Israel to refrain from the offensive, underscoring that any ceasefire must entail reciprocal action from Hamas, including disarmament and the prompt release of remaining hostages.

Referring to the International Court of Justice’s recent ruling in a genocide case brought by South Africa, the statement highlighted Israel’s obligation to protect civilians and provide essential humanitarian assistance.

Emphasizing the paramount importance of civilian protection under international humanitarian law, the leaders underscored that Palestinian civilians should not bear the brunt of combating Hamas.

Meanwhile, The Gaza Strip has been the scene of death and destruction for more than four months amid Israel’s relentless strikes in the besieged Palestinian territory.

Soon after Israel launched its onslaught on October 7, it ordered Palestinians to leave the north of the strip and seek safety in southern areas such as Khan Younis and Rafah. But, as the war went on, the regime issued evacuation orders for areas where the Palestinians had been told to take refuge. Tehran Times published this article today.

Israel has recently intensified airstrikes on Rafah after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the military to prepare a plan to evacuate civilians from the city ahead of an expected ground offensive. Israel killed dozens of civilians in early Monday airstrikes in Rafah. 

Rafah humanitarian situation 

Rafah was home to 250,000 Palestinians before Israel launched its onslaught in October. But now an estimated 1.4 million people out of Gaza’s 2.3 million population are sheltering in the small city.  

They are living in makeshift shelters or tents in squalid conditions, with scarce access to safe drinking water or food. The condition for newer arrivals is worse as they have to sleep in the streets. 
The internally displaced Gazans say Rafah is their last refuge and they have nowhere else to go. 
The world is now witnessing an unbearable human tragedy in the city where children are struggling to find food as shortages leave thousands hungry. 
Humanitarian organizations have warned of widespread shortages of critical supplies like medical aid.

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I am an experienced writer, analyst, and author. My exposure in English journalism spans more than 28 years. In the past, I have been working with daily The Muslim (Lahore Bureau), daily Business Recorder (Lahore/Islamabad Bureaus), Daily Times, Islamabad, daily The Nation (Lahore and Karachi). With daily The Nation, I have served as Resident Editor, Karachi. Since 2009, I have been working as a Freelance Writer/Editor for American organizations.

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