Saudi Arabia threatens ‘catastrophe’ if Israel strikes Rafah

Saudi Arabia demanded on Saturday that the UN Security Council step in and stop Israel’s planned army assault in Rafah, calling it a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

The foreign ministry statement, which was aired by state media, stated that the kingdom “strongly condemns and rejects the extremely dangerous consequences of storming and targeting” Rafah. It also reiterated its “categorical rejection” of their forcible deportation.

The statement went on, “This ongoing violation of international humanitarian law and international law reinforces the importance of convening the Security Council promptly to prevent Israel from triggering an imminent humanitarian catastrophe.”

On Friday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave the army orders to get ready to evacuate Rafah’s civilian population in advance of a scheduled ground offensive against Hamas in the city.

In the far south of Gaza, the city has become the home of over a million Palestinian refugees, many of whom are camped out in tents between the sea and Egypt borders.

Saudi Arabia, which is home to some of the most sacred places in Islam, has never recognized Israel but had discussed doing so before to the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas conflict in October.

Around 1,160 people, primarily civilians, were killed in an attack on southern Israel by Hamas terrorists, which set off the battle, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli numbers.

Israel began a large military attack in Gaza with the goal of eliminating Hamas. According to the health ministry of Hamas-run territory, the offensive has killed at least 27,947 individuals, the majority of them were women and children.

While denouncing Israeli “aggression” in Gaza, Riyadh has called for a ceasefire several times.

Although US President Joe Biden’s administration has expressed hope that normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel will be restored, Saudi Arabia claimed this week that it had informed Washington that it would not forge diplomatic ties with Israel until an independent Palestinian state was “recognized” and Israeli soldiers withdrew from Gaza.

The leaders of Hamas in Gaza issued a warning on Saturday, claiming that “tens of thousands” of people could die as a result of Israeli operations in Rafah.

Mahmud Abbas, the president of Palestine, said in his office that the action is “a clear violation of all red lines” and “threatens security and peace in the area in the world.”

(With inputs from agencies)

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