War on Gaza: China, US call for halt to Rafah offensive

Meanwhile, Israel reportedly wants an evacuation of the 1.4 million refugees in Rafah to camps that Egypt must set up

A family on a horse-drawn cart with a small injured child, bandages covering one leg, in Rafah, Gaza (photo: DW)
A family on a horse-drawn cart with a small injured child, bandages covering one leg, in Rafah, Gaza (photo: DW)
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  • China says Israel must halt its operation in Rafah as soon as possible

  • US President Joe Biden says civilians sheltering in Rafah 'need to be protected'

  • IDF reports killing dozens of Hamas militants over 24-hour period

Report: Israel proposing evacuation of Rafah

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) has reported that the Israeli government proposed to evacuate the southern Gazan city of Rafah into extensive tent cities.

The US publication cited Egyptian officials who said Israel's proposal envisaged 15 tented camps.

Each of the camps would contain around 25,000 tents and Egypt would be responsible for setting up the camps along with field hospitals, the officials said.

The UN says about 1.5 million people are sheltering in and around the city as Israel continues operations to root out the Hamas militant group, considered a terrorist organisation by the US, EU and other governments.

The WSJ reported that the proposal had been submitted to Egypt in recent days.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said Israel will provide "safe passage" to civilians trying to leave, but foreign governments and aid organisations — as well as Gazans — questioned where they could go.

"As it is, there is no place that is currently safe in Gaza," said United Nations spokesperson Stephane Dujarric.

Israeli military reports killing dozens of Hamas fighters

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) on Tuesday, 13 February, said dozens of Hamas militants had been killed in Gaza over a 24-hour period.

The IDF said its forces "eliminated over 30 terrorists" in fighting west of Khan Younis and that they had deepened operational control of the area.

It listed instances in which Israeli forces had engaged with Hamas militants and posted videos of some of the aerial strikes conducted.

The death toll provided by the Hamas-run Health Ministry in Gaza does not differentiate between civilians and combatants. Israel claims to have killed thousands of Hamas militants.

Hamas is listed as a terrorist organization in the European Union, the United States and Israel.

China urges Israel to stop Rafah operation

China on Tuesday urged Israel to halt its military operation in Gaza's southern border city of Rafah and warned of serious humanitarian consequences if fighting did not stop.

"We oppose and condemn acts against civilians and international law. We call on Israel to stop military operations as soon as possible," a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said in a statement.

The statement went on to say that Israel needed to "do everything possible to avoid casualties among innocent civilians and prevent a more devastating humanitarian disaster in Rafah".

There has been mounting international pressure for Israel to agree to a ceasefire with the Hamas militant group.

The UN says about 1.5 million are sheltering in and around the city, having fled areas in northern Gaza, since Israel launched operations to root out Hamas after the Islamist group's terror attacks on 7 October last year.

US President Joe Biden on Monday said that the military operation in Rafah "should not proceed without a credible plan" that would ensure the safety of the people sheltering there.

"Many people there have been displaced — displaced multiple times, fleeing the violence to the north, and now they're packed into Rafah — exposed and vulnerable. They need to be protected," Biden said as he hosted Jordan's King Abdullah II.

kb/rc (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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