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Military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic: Australia, Canada, New Zealand

Military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic: Australia, Canada, New Zealand

- Prime ministers of 3 countries ‘urge Israeli government not to go down this path,’ says joint statement

By Merve Berker

ANKARA (AA) – About reports on Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah, the prime ministers of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand have said that this would be “catastrophic” while urging Tel Aviv “not to go down this path.”

The prime ministers of the three countries, Anthony Albanese, Justin Trudeau, and Christopher Luxon, respectively, issued a joint statement on Wednesday about reports on Israel’s planned military operation in Rafah, expressing “grave concern” over the issue.

Describing the action as “catastrophic,” the leaders said: “About 1.5 million Palestinians are taking refuge in the area, including many of our citizens and their families.”

“With the humanitarian situation in Gaza already dire, the impacts on Palestinian civilians from an expanded military operation would be devastating,” the statement read.

The prime ministers urged Tel Aviv “not to go down this path,” lamenting: “There is simply nowhere else for civilians to go.”

Underlining the “growing international consensus” on the issue, the joint statement advised the Israeli government to “listen to its friends” along with the international community.

“The protection of civilians is paramount and a requirement under international humanitarian law,” they noted. “Palestinian civilians cannot be made to pay the price of defeating Hamas.”

The leaders further emphasized the need for “an immediate humanitarian ceasefire” and the release of hostages from both sides.

“The need for humanitarian assistance in Gaza has never been greater,” they warned. “Rapid, safe and unimpeded humanitarian relief must be provided to civilians.”

“The International Court of Justice has been clear: Israel must ensure the delivery of basic services and essential humanitarian assistance and must protect civilians,” the prime ministers said, recalling that the ICJ’s “decisions on provisional measures are binding.”

The statement stressed that a two-sided solution “is necessary to finding a path towards securing lasting peace for Israelis and Palestinians.”

They called on Hamas to “lay down its arms and release all hostages immediately.”

“We again unequivocally condemn Hamas for its terror attacks on Israel on October 7,” they criticized.

“Ultimately, a negotiated political solution is needed to achieve lasting peace and security,” they noted.

“Australia, Canada, and New Zealand remain steadfast in their commitment to a two-state solution, including the creation of a Palestinian state alongside Israel, where Palestinians and Israelis live side by side in peace, security, and dignity.”

Israel has pounded the Gaza Strip since an Oct. 7 attack by the Palestinian group Hamas, killing at least 28,576 people and injuring 68,291 others, while nearly 1,200 Israelis are believed to have been killed in the Hamas attack.

The Israeli war on Gaza has pushed 85% of the territory's population into internal displacement amid acute shortages of food, clean water, and medicine, while 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been damaged or destroyed, according to the UN.

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice, which in an interim ruling in January ordered Tel Aviv to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

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