GENEVA, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- A potential full-fledged military incursion into Rafah is terrifying, as an extremely large number of civilians, mostly women and children, will likely be killed and injured, the United Nations (UN) human rights chief Volker Turk warned on Monday.
"Not so long ago, I had flagged the unimaginable suffering faced by Palestinians in Gaza. Today, sadly, given the carnage wrought so far in Gaza it is wholly imaginable what would lie ahead in Rafah," the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a media statement.
Located in the southern Gaza Strip and being Gaza's only gateway to the rest of the world that is not directly controlled by Israel, Rafah now houses some 1.5 million Palestinians whereas before the Oct. 7 attack, its population stood at 250,000.
In addition to the pain and suffering incurred by the bombs and bullets, this incursion into Rafah may also mean the end of the meager humanitarian aid that has been entering and distributed with huge implications for all of Gaza, including the hundreds of thousands in grave risk of starvation and famine in the north, Turk said in the statement.
He noted that his office had repeatedly warned against actions that violate the laws of war, and the prospect of such an operation into Rafah risked further atrocity crimes.
"Israel must comply with the legally binding orders issued by the International Court of Justice, and with the full span of international humanitarian law. Those who defy international law have been put on notice. Accountability must follow," he said.
The UN human rights chief urged the world leaders to "restrain rather than enable" further violence, and called for an immediate ceasefire, saying that all remaining hostages must be released and there must be renewed collective resolve to reach a political solution. ■