‘Our world cannot afford to wait’ - International calls for peace intensify over Israel-Gaza war

February 23, 2024

slide image

Article link copied.

October 9, 2023, Gaza City. The Yassin Mosque destroyed by an Israeli airstrike in the first days after Hamas' attack on Israel.

Picture by: Adel Hana | Associated Press | Alamy

A demand for a ceasefire in the Israel-Gaza war has been voiced by leading figures worldwide. This includes Prince William who said there is a “desperate need for increased humanitarian support to Gaza.”

His remarks join others voicing their concern, such as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres who earlier this month called for peace in the Middle East and around the world – “our world cannot afford to wait.” Continuing to state how “repeated bloody hostilities and decades of tensions and occupation have failed to provide a State for the Palestinians or security for Israelis.”

Reports from Statista indicate that as of February 19, around 1,200 Israelis and 29,092 Palestinians have been killed since October 7, 2023, due to the Israel-Gaza war.

More than a million displaced Palestinians have found shelter in the southern city of Rafah after fleeing the fighting in the north. But Rafah is the Israeli military’s next target and according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, it is a territory where they are “going to get the remaining Hamas terrorist battalions in Rafah, which is the last bastion,” adding: “But we’re going to do it… victory is within reach.”

CNN reported that although Rafah “has experienced aerial assaults from Israeli forces for months,” the impending ground battle “brings with it heightened fears of a bloodbath.”

US President Joe Biden expressed concern for those who are stuck in the city left with “nowhere to go.” While the city is surrounded by Egypt, it has been months since the border was closed.

But, Netanyahu’s plans have heightened Egypt’s alarm over the situation nevertheless, with the country threatening to revoke the Camp David Accords, which were signed in September 1978 and created the foundation for a peace deal between Israel and Egypt and became the key political agreements of stability in the Middle East.

Egypt has outlined its intention to stop negotiating with Israel should Netanyahu “[go] ahead with his plan,” disclosed Sky News. Warning that an offensive into Rafah would ‘violate international law’ and run the risk of escalating the refugee problem into its borders.

This has the potential to drastically escalate the humanitarian crisis in the region since around half of Gaza’s population have fled to Rafah, a city that previously housed less than 300,000.

The UN Secretary General stated: “They have no homes – and they have no hope,” where even UN humanitarian operations are unable to reach them due to “denials of access, delays and dangers – including live fire.”

And Thomas White, Director of UNRWA Affairs in Gaza and UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for the occupied Palestinian territory shed light on Rafah now being “a sea of people fleeing bombardments,” where most are living in makeshift structures, tents, or out in the open.

The UNRWA’s report outlines how “critical supplies to meet food insecurity continue to be blocked due to lack of Israeli authorities’ approvals to move flour from the Israeli port of Ashdod into the Gaza Strip.”

And the head of the UN World Health Organisation (WHO), Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, highlighted that even though 447 metric tonnes of medical supplies to Gaza have been delivered, it is “a drop in the ocean of need, which continues to grow every day.”

“Let’s be clear: denial of humanitarian access means denial of humanitarian relief for civilians,” highlighted Guterres.

Although the UN has continuously called for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, unconditional release of hostages and concrete steps towards a two-State solution in line with UN resolutions and international law, negotiations between the Israeli government and Hamas seem “not very promising,” according to Qatar Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani.

Since the war began, Qatar, who has previously hosted Hamas leaders in exile, has taken the lead in mediating the Israeli-Hamas negotiations taking place in Cairo, Egypt together with Egypt and US officials.

The latest negotiations have pointed out the gap between the two in reaching central terms for an agreement of a ceasefire, reported AP News.

Read more:

Israel and Hamas are far apart on a Gaza cease-fire and hostage deal. What are the sticking points?

Some of the key grounds of dispute are that Hamas intends to secure the creation of a Palestinian independent state, whereas Israel has stated its goal of “removing its threat to the State of Israel.”

While Hamas wants the release of hundreds of senior Palestinian militants, Israel believes that they should stay in prison due to the security threats they might pose.

There is a difference of opinion on how the war should finish. Israel wants to fight until it achieves “total victory” while Hamas demands an ongoing ceasefire before holding talks to free the hostages.

Amid these ongoing negotiations, there has been growing international support for Palestine.

South Africa’s third largest political party – the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has been one of the leaders on this, with a renewal of its commitment to the people of Palestine in its election manifesto. Its leader Julius Malema along with leading global figures such as President Biden have called for “a temporary ceasefire.”

Malema commented on February 10 that “the people of Palestine are not against the Jewish nation. The people of Palestine do not want to kill Jewish women and children. The people of Palestine want their self-determination.”

South Africa has already expressed strong condemnation since January when they addressed the International Court of Justice to put an end to the widespread murder of civilians in Gaza.

UN Turkiye documented that the South African legal team claimed that Israel has shown a “pattern of genocidal conduct” since beginning its full-scale war in Gaza, the 365 square kilometer strip of land it has occupied since 1967. But, Israel has categorically rejected this charge as “baseless.”

On the other side of the world, Foreign Minister of Australia Penny Wong called attention to the “deep concerns about reports of an Israeli military operation in Rafah.” Adding how “there is growing international consensus: Israel must listen to its friends and it must listen to the international community.”

Bombs struck Rafah this Thursday, February 22. The ground operations into Rafah will escalate if Hamas does not free the remaining Israeli captives held in Gaza, warned Israel.

This has created increasing alarm as the Muslim holy month of Ramadan approaches, with the concern that if the situation in the area evolves, “it will be a very, very dangerous time,” said Qatar’s Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed at the annual Munich Security Conference over the weekend.

Jens Laerke, a spokesperson for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told the media “Rafah is a pressure cooker of despair, and we fear for what comes next.”

Written by:

author_bio

Sofiya Suleimenova

International Affairs Section Editor

Geneva, Switzerland

Born in 2006 in Barcelona, Spain, Sofiya currently studies in Switzerland. She aims to study law, preferably in the United States. In her free time, Sofie practices karate – she won a silver medal for kata and a bronze in sparring. She speaks French, English, Russian and Spanish.

She started her collaboration with Harbingers’ Magazine as a Staff Writer. In 2022, she assumed the role of the International Affairs Correspondent. Sofiya created and manages the collaboration with LEARN Afghan organisation, under which teenage girls from Afghanistan receive free education in journalism and English. In recognition of the importance of this project, in September of 2023, she was promoted to the role of the International Affairs Section editor.

 

Edited by:

author_bio

Sofiya Tkachenko

former Editor-in-chief

Kyiv, Ukraine | Vienna, Austria

human rights