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The WHO chief says that Israel's Rafah operation could lead to a bloodbath.

Photo-AFP

The World Health Organization (WHO) issued a stark warning about the potential consequences of an Israeli military incursion into Gaza's southern city of Rafah, cautioning that it could result in a "bloodbath." The warning came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to eliminate Hamas fighters remaining in Rafah, where a significant portion of Gaza's population has sought refuge amid months of conflict. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expressed deep concern for the 1.2 million individuals taking shelter in Rafah, emphasizing the already fragile state of Gaza's health system.

Contingency plans were announced by the WHO to address the potential humanitarian crisis that could arise from such an operation, but it was emphasized that these measures would not be sufficient to prevent significant casualties and strain on the health infrastructure. The WHO highlighted the dire state of Gaza's health facilities, with the majority having been damaged or destroyed during previous conflicts. Urgent efforts are underway to restore and reinforce medical services, including the establishment of additional medical sites and the restoration of the largest hospital in south Gaza, the Nasser Medical Complex.

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Despite these efforts, the WHO stressed that the health system would be overwhelmed by the potential scale of devastation caused by a military operation in Rafah. Additionally, concerns were raised about the broader humanitarian impact of such an operation, including increased displacement, overcrowding, limited access to essential resources, and heightened risks of disease outbreaks. Calls were made for an immediate ceasefire and unhindered humanitarian access to Gaza to address the escalating crisis.

United Nations agencies echoed the WHO's concerns, warning that a military operation in Rafah could lead to catastrophic consequences, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. The ongoing conflict in Gaza, which began with an attack by Hamas on southern Israel, has resulted in significant civilian casualties and widespread devastation.

May 4, 2024 11:33 a.m. 3747

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