“UA large-scale Israeli offensive in Rafah would create a catastrophic humanitarian situation on a new and unjustifiable scale,” said French Foreign Ministry deputy spokesperson Christophe Lemoine.

“In order to avoid a catastrophe, we reiterate our call for an end to the fighting,” he added, in a written statement cited by the French news agency, France-Presse (AFP).

Paris recalls that “Rafah is currently a place of refuge for more than 1.3 million people” and highlights that “it is also a vital crossing point for the delivery of humanitarian aid to the population of Gaza”.

Despite the appeals, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted on his desire to launch a military offensive against Rafah, something that France opposes.

“In Gaza, as elsewhere, France opposes any forced displacement of populations, prohibited by international humanitarian law,” said Christophe Lemoine.

“The future of the Gaza strip and its inhabitants can only involve a Palestinian state that lives in peace and security alongside Israel,” he added.

On Friday, the Israeli Prime Minister ordered the Israel Defense Forces to begin preparing for the evacuation of Rafah.

In a statement released by his office, Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel will not be able to defeat Hamas without destroying the forces that the Palestinian Islamist movement maintains in that city, in the south of the Gaza Strip, and in its surroundings.

Both the UN and the US have expressed their concern about a possible expansion of the Israeli army’s ground offensive towards Rafah, the last refuge for more than a million Gazans who have been fleeing fighting for four months.

The State Department warned on Thursday that a military operation in Rafah without adequate planning for the evacuation of civilians would be “a disaster.”

The Hamas attack on October 7 caused around 1,200 deaths, according to Israel.

Since then, 28,176 Palestinians, the vast majority of them women, children and teenagers, have been killed in the Gaza Strip by Israeli bombings and military operations, according to the Ministry of Health of Hamas, a movement considered terrorist that has controlled the enclave since 2007.

Negotiations have been underway for several weeks for a ceasefire lasting at least six weeks and the release of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

In November, a week-long ceasefire allowed the release of 105 of the approximately 250 hostages taken to Gaza and 240 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

According to Israel, 132 hostages remain detained in Gaza, 29 of whom are believed to have died.

Read Also: Egypt threatens to suspend peace treaty if Rafah is invaded

Source: https://www.noticiasaominuto.com/mundo/2500075/franca-esta-profundamente-preocupada-com-ofensiva-programada-a-rafah

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