World’s Top Humanitarian Network Urges Ceasefire; Israel Says Offensive To Last Next 7 Months

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IFRC President Kate Forbes stressed the need for a ceasefire in Gaza to enable the delivery of aid to Palestinians amid a dire humanitarian situation.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) called on Wednesday for a ceasefire and unimpeded humanitarian access to the Gaza Strip, where millions of people face worsening hunger.

The war-torn enclave is suffering from a humanitarian catastrophe nearly eight months after Israel launched a military offensive in the enclave, killing thousands and devastating the enclave.

“We desperately need a political solution that will allow us to have a ceasefire to get aid in,” IFRC President Kate Forbes told Reuters in an interview in the capital, Manila.

“We’re ready to make a difference. We have to have access, and to have access there has to have a ceasefire,” said Forbes, who in December became the second woman to ever hold the top job at the world’s largest humanitarian network.

The IFRC president is a volunteer position and oversees a network that unites 191 organisations working during and after disasters and wars, such as the Palestine Red Crescent Society, which has ambulance crews in Gaza.

Forbes said she had seen the “atrocious” situation in Rafah during a visit in February, months before Israel launched a military assault on the southern Gaza city, which had been sheltering more than a million Palestinians who fled assaults on other parts of the enclave.

“There was not enough housing. There was no water, there weren’t enough sanitation toilets. We had a hospital with no equipment and unfortunately what I was afraid of has happened, and that there wasn’t going to be enough food,” Forbes said.

Prospects for a resumption of mediated Gaza ceasefire talks grew over the weekend, even as Israel continued its brutal and indiscriminate military campaign in Rafah despite the top United Nations court ordering Israel on Friday to stop attacking Gaza’s southernmost city.

Hamas has denied reports that talks would resume earlier this week amid Israel’s ongoing offensive in Rafah.

“I plead with the governments on all sides to negotiate a ceasefire so that we can get aid in,” Forbes said.

“My job is to ensure that when it (ceasefire) happens, we can give the aid that’s necessary. And so they need to do their jobs so I can do my job,” she added. 

Most of the casualties from Israel’s war on Gaza have been women and children.

Israel says Gaza offensive likely to last another 7 months as tanks probe Rafah

Israel has sent tanks on raids into Rafah and said its military campaign on Hamas in Gaza will likely continue all year, after Washington said the Rafah assault did not amount to a major ground operation that would trigger a change in US policy, Reuters reports.

Rafah residents said the tanks had pushed into Tel Al-Sultan in western Rafah and Yibna and near Shaboura in the centre before retreating towards a buffer zone on the border with Egypt, rather than staying put elsewhere.

Israel said its military controlled three-quarters of the buffer zone on the Egyptian border and aimed to control all of it to prevent Hamas smuggling in weapons.

Fighting in Gaza would continue throughout 2024 at least, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi added, signalling that Israel was not ready to end the fighting as demanded by Hamas, as part of a deal that would see the exchange of hostages it holds for Palestinian prisoners.

Courtesy: Reuters

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