Iran calls for emergency meeting over Israel’s planned attack on Rafah

Over a million families have been forced to move to Rafah and are living in tents without any basic facilities

IRAN has called for an emergency meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) amid the dire humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, especially Rafah which faces an imminent Israeli invasion.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian made the plea on Thursday during phone talks with OIC Secretary-General Hissein Brahim Taha, demanding that Muslim countries ‘take decisive measures against the recent aggression of the Zionist regime’.
Israel is preparing a ground invasion of Gaza’s southern city Rafah where more than a million Palestinians have fled since the start of the war on Gaza, with a top UN official warning that it could lead to a ‘slaughter’.
Amir-Abodollahian expressed deep regret over the situation and condemned the recent Israeli aggression against Rafah, ‘which has so far led to the martyrdom of a large number of innocent Palestinian women and children’.
He said ‘further activity and mobility of the international community, especially the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, is important and urgently needed in order to stop these attacks’.
The minister also touched on the dire humanitarian situation in northern Gaza and the severe shortage of basic necessities of life for the residents.
He stressed the need for appropriate and urgent measures to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid, especially food, medicine and pharmaceuticals.
The OIC secretary expressed concern over the situation and condemned continued Israeli attacks on Gaza.
He also welcomed Iran’s proposal to hold an emergency meeting of the OIC Council of Foreign Ministers and promised to follow up the issue in consultation with the member countries.
Hundreds of thousands of people have been driven into Rafah, seeking shelter in a sprawling makeshift encampment near the Egyptian border.
Australia, Canada and New Zealand were the latest to warn Israel not to launch a ground onslaught against Rafah, issuing a joint statement saying it would be ‘devastating’ for the 1.5 million Palestinians trapped there.
‘There is simply nowhere else for civilians to go,’ they said.
Nevertheless, Israel launched more deadly strikes on southern Gaza on Thursday, after extremist prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted he would push ahead with a ‘powerful’ invasion of the overcrowded city of Rafah.
According to Politico, the US has given Israel the green light to kill civilians in Rafah despite public comments from US officials calling for the regime to come up with a plan to protect civilians in the city.
US officials told the Washington-based online political journalism network that the Biden administration was not planning any consequences for Israel if it went ahead with the Rafah invasion.
‘No reprimand plans are in the works, meaning Israeli forces could enter the city and harm civilians without facing American consequences,’ the report read.
White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby made clear at a press conference on Monday that the US wasn’t thinking about cutting off Israel from military aid if it went ahead with the assault.

  • At least 11 people, including children, have been killed in Israeli strikes on villages in southern Lebanon, according to a report.

A hospital director and three Lebanese security sources reported that 11 people, including six children, were killed during strikes the Israeli military carried out against villages across southern Lebanon on Wednesday.
The Tel Aviv regime said in a statement that it had responded to an earlier rocket attack conducted by the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement that killed an Israeli trooper. The resistance group, however, did not announce any operations on Wednesday.
Initial reports had said four civilians were killed in the strikes.
Hezbollah and Israel have been trading near daily cross-border fire since the occupying regime waged a deadly war on Gaza on October 7.
Hezbollah, whose constant rocket fire has prompted tens of thousands of Israeli settlers to flee from the northern areas of the occupied territories, says its operations are meant to support Gaza’s resistance.
Two security sources said that a woman and her two children had been killed in an Israeli strike on the village of al-Sawana on Wednesday.
Another strike on a building in Nabatieh claimed the lives of four more children, three women and a man, according to the director of the town’s hospital, Hassan Wazni, and three other security sources. Wazni further said that seven people were also wounded in the strikes.
Sources also said that four Hezbollah fighters were also killed in separate strikes.
Hezbollah’s Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah made the remarks at a ceremony held in honour of Lebanon’s wounded and captured resistance fighters.
Hezbollah has warned it would expand the anti-Israel front in the south if the occupying regime escalated its acts of aggression against the Lebanese territory and the Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip.
The resistance group has vowed to keep up its retaliatory operations as long as the usurping entity continues its aggression against Gaza, which has so far killed more than 28,500 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and injured over 68,200 others.
On Tuesday, Hezbollah’s secretary-general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah reiterated in a televised address that his group would only stop its exchanges of fire if a full and permanent ceasefire was reached for Gaza.

  • Ireland has pledged 20 million euros ($16.7 million) funding for the United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees after the US and its allies suspended their assistance for the agency based on unsubstantiated Israeli allegations.

On Thursday, Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Defense, Micheál Martin, affirmed his country’s insistence on sustaining its assistance to the agency.
Martin, who was speaking at a joint news conference with Commissioner-General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), Philippe Lazzarini in Dublin, called the agency’s work a ‘lifeline’ for the displaced Palestinians in Gaza. ‘There is no replacement for UNRWA’s work in Gaza,’ the Irish top diplomat said.
Spain and Ireland leaders have urged EU to confront Israel’s ‘grave, imminent threat’.
The prime ministers of Ireland and Spain voiced their concern in a letter to EU Commission.
Led by the United States, a whole host of states, namely Canada, Australia, Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Estonia, Japan, Austria, and Romania withdrew their financial support for the agency.
UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said dismantling the UN agency for Palestinian refugees would be a disaster.
The move was taken over Israeli allegations that 12 of the agency’s 13,000-strong staff in the Gaza Strip were involved in Operation al-Aqsa Storm, an operation staged by the coastal sliver’s resistance groups against the occupied territories on October 7, 2023.
The US-led withdrawal of support for UNRWA denies the agency funding worth about $450 million, which amounts to almost half of the agency’s budget for 2024.
The developments come amid a genocidal war that the Israeli regime has been waging against Gaza following the Palestinian operation.
More than 28,660 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have so far died and around 1.9 million others been displaced in Gaza as a result of the brutal Israeli onslaught.