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Egypt, UN warn against Israeli operation in Gaza's Rafah

Xinhua | Updated: 2024-03-25 02:48
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Palestinian children react near the site of an Israeli strike on a house, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip on March 24. [Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO -- Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi and visiting United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday voiced complete rejection of the displacement of Palestinians from their territories and any Israeli military operation in the southernmost Gazan city of Rafah.

During their talks in Cairo, the two leaders warned against any Israeli operation in Rafah to unleash catastrophic consequences on the already dire situation in the city, said the Egyptian presidency in a statement.

They also discussed the intensified efforts to reach an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and deliver sufficient humanitarian aid to people in the besieged enclave, the statement added.

The president and the UN chief called for favorable conditions for implementing the two-state solution, calling it "the only path to achieve justice, security, and stability in the region."

Israel has been announcing plans to launch a large-scale ground operation in Rafah, where about 1.5 million internally displaced Palestinians reside, a move widely rejected by the international community.

Later in the day, at a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, the UN chief reiterated his call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel has imposed a strict siege and launched continued heavy strikes against Hamas for over five months.

"The time for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire is now," he said.

Israel's ongoing strikes in Gaza have so far killed 32,226 Palestinians and injured 74,518 others, the Gaza-based Palestinian Health Ministry updated in a statement on Sunday. The Israeli escalation came in retaliation for the attack launched by Gaza-ruling Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023, on adjacent Israeli towns, in which about 1,200 Israelis were killed and more than 200 were taken hostage.

"Nothing justifies the horrific attack by Hamas on Oct. 7, and nothing justifies the collective punishment of the Palestinian people," Guterres told a press conference on Saturday at the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing, where he renewed the peace call.

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