Israel-Gaza war: Warnings mount as Israel plans Rafah offensive

Israel is facing growing international warnings over its planned offensive in Rafah - the city in southern Gaza crammed with Palestinian refugees.


Warnings from International Community

UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron said over half of Gaza's population are sheltering in the area and Dutch FM Hanke Bruins Slot said there could be many civilian casualties.

Saudi Arabia warned of very serious repercussions if Rafah was stormed, while Gaza's Hamas rulers said there could be tens of thousands of casualties.

The US has already warned Israel that an invasion of Rafah as part of its assault on Gaza would be a disaster, while the EU and the UN expressed their own concerns.

Israeli Actions and Rejections

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered his military to prepare to evacuate civilians from the city ahead of an expanded offensive against Hamas.

The prime minister also rejected Hamas's latest proposed ceasefire terms.

Uncertainty and Fear

Aid groups say it is not possible to evacuate everyone from the city on the border with Egypt.

UN humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick expressed concern about the situation and said people in Rafah would have nowhere to go if Israeli troops launched their offensive.

Some 1.5 million Palestinians are believed to be in Rafah, seeking refuge from Israeli combat operations. Most of them are living in tents.