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Confronting forced displacement plans and stopping the threat of genocide in Gaza is the responsibility of the Egyptian authorities, in partnership with the international community

Photo: A convoy carrying food supplies that was waiting to head to the northern Gaza Strip was bombed by Israeli naval fire, UNRWA 📷©️

Joint Statement

A large-scale incursion into Rafah would be a bloodbath, and the world must not allow it. Urgent international action is urgently needed, as forcing the nearly one-and-a-half million displaced people in Rafah into forced evacuation again would have catastrophic and unimaginable humanitarian consequences. The humanitarian response in Rafah is already exhausting. Any expanded hostilities by “Israel” will lead to the collapse of the already fragile aid system, leaving civilians without basic services, and threatening the spread of more diseases and malnutrition among the population and the displaced.

During the past weeks, the Israeli army carried out air strikes on the city of Rafah, with army commanders continuing threats of their intention to storm the city by land, despite mounting international warnings from governments, United Nations bodies and relief organizations of the repercussions of this, as the city of Rafah, located in the far south of the Gaza Strip, has become the last place where civilians can take refuge within the Gaza Strip, while investigations by international organizations indicate that many of the attacks carried out by the occupation army on Rafah – most likely – directly targeted civilians and civilian objects in illegal attacks, which requires investigation into them as possible war crimes. 

Rafah, with an area of only 63 square kilometers, now houses more than 1.4 million displaced people, equivalent to more than half the population of the entire Gaza Strip, and the average density now exceeds 22,200 people per square kilometer, making it the most densely populated place on the face of the earth. The Israeli attacks destroyed infrastructure and the lack of health and civil services, while the Israeli authorities continue to obstruct the arrival of humanitarian aid in a manner commensurate with the scale of the humanitarian disaster. The limited living space, its organization, and the density that the aggression created in the city as a result of the serial and deliberate forced displacement through continued bombing – by land, sea and air – and the blowing up of entire civilian neighborhoods and all types of service provision headquarters and the targeting of civil work cadres, caused the humanitarian situation to reach a stage where life is impossible, and It exacerbated the challenges that displaced people face daily.

Egypt recently strengthened its security measures along the border with the Gaza Strip. It deployed approximately 40 tanks and armored personnel carriers in Rafah according to Egyptian security sources. According to what human rights institutions have monitored, Egypt has begun building concrete walls topped with barbed wire on the border line separating Egyptian and Palestinian Rafah from December 2023 until last week.

Press reports published by international media circulated satellite images and video clips from the ground during the past week, showing trucks and bulldozers removing rubble from lands adjacent to the border with Gaza, with an area of about 19 square kilometers, and construction work showing concrete walls that may reach a height of 7 meters. Other satellite images showed that bulldozers arrived at construction sites on February 3, 2024, and began work in the buffer zone on February 6. Reports stated that Egypt is building a security buffer zone near Gaza – most likely – in preparation for the possibility of a mass exodus of residents of the Strip following the expected Israeli military invasion of the southern city of Rafah, which human rights lawyers described as the worst-case scenario for violating the rights of Palestinians, as the displaced will remain stuck in this buffer zone to be established, just as the Syrian refugees were stuck in the buffer zone with Jordan and Iraq.

What Israel is doing violates the provisional measures that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to adhere to last month and can only be understood under Article 2(c) of the Genocide Convention, which prohibits the intentional imposition of conditions leading to the partial or complete destruction of a national, racial or religious group. 

Also, to date, “Israel” has not adhered to any of the ICJ orders or international laws and norms, including refraining from obstructing the delivery of aid to Gaza and improving the humanitarian situation. At the same time, it closes the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Egypt for long periods during the war and allows settlers to close the crossing to aid trucks that were supposed to enter the Gaza Strip. None of them over the past 10 days, except for only 9 aid trucks, according to statements by the director of government information in Gaza. As of noon on Tuesday, February 20, UN aid trucks have been occasionally bombed, which also constitutes a potential war crime by the Israeli authorities using hunger as a weapon to harm and kill civilians in Gaza.

The undersigned organizations demand:

  • Using all means available to Egyptian sovereignty and diplomacy to achieve a sustainable ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, and not give the occupation authorities any opportunity or justification for the attacks on Rafah to pave the way for forced displacement, which the Egyptian authorities have repeatedly rejected.
  • The Rafah crossing must be opened immediately and completely in both ways – for the entry of humanitarian aid, basic needs, medical support and rescue teams, and for the exit of all injured people who urgently need medical intervention that does not exist in the Gaza Strip.
  • We also call on the Egyptian authorities to continuously explain to international public opinion any movements on the Egyptian border and their reasons in detail. Egypt must also clarify to the world in its expected verbal argument before the International Court of Justice on February 21 the status of the Rafah crossing since the beginning of the genocidal aggression and provide related records of correspondence with the occupation government in its report submitted to the court.
  • Immediately take practical steps to prevent Israel, which is being tried for genocide and as a state of illegal occupation and apartheid, from continuing to commit more crimes against humanity and ensure that it is held accountable for its criminal acts.
  • Governments and international organizations must act to quickly issue a ceasefire resolution by the Security Council without obstruction from any of the countries with veto rights, stop the export of weapons and spare parts for military equipment to the Israeli army, and not give any political cover for its crimes, or protect it from impunity for any of those accused of committing war crimes against the Palestinians.


Signatory organizations:

El Nadeem Centre
Refugees Platform in Egypt (RPE)
Sinai for Human Rights

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