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War on Gaza: Aid organisations write to Sunak on humanitarian situation in Rafah

The letter expresses urgent concern over Israeli attacks on Rafah, where around 1.3 million forcibly displaced Palestinians currently live
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London (AFP/Henry Nicholls)
Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak leaves from 10 Downing Street in central London (AFP/Henry Nicholls)

Over 20 charities and aid organisations in the UK have written a letter to the British prime minister that calls on him to demand that Israel stop its offensive into Rafah and agrees to a ceasefire. 

The letter, signed on 12 February, says that many of the signatories have staff and partners in Gaza and highlights that over 11,500 children have so far been killed in Israel’s war on the besieged enclave.

“We are writing with urgent concern about the overnight attacks on Rafah following Israel's announcement that it aims to conduct a destructive military campaign on the most densely-populated stretch on Earth,” the letter reads. 

The statement comes following the overnight bombardment of Rafah, where at least 1.3 million Palestinians have been forced to seek shelter, in what was initially designated as a “safe zone".

The letter calls on Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to use “the UK’s full diplomatic pressure to demand Israel halt its military campaign, which has already resulted in the killing of 28,000 people".

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It also states that the signatories have already attempted to work with the British government towards halting the atrocities, but have been “profoundly dismayed and alarmed” at the lack of action, particularly after meeting the foreign secretary and describing the situation. 

Organisations that have signed the letter include ActionAid UK, Action for Humanity, Islamic Relief, Christian Aid, Plan International UK, Interpal, the United Nations Association, and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights.

Intensified attacks on Rafah 

At least 67 Palestinians were killed in Israeli air and sea attacks on Rafah early on Monday, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. 

Volker Turk, the UN’s human rights chief, has also raised alarm over the anticipated Israeli ground assault on Rafah, saying it would be “terrifying".

“A potential full-fledged military incursion into Rafah – where some 1.5 million Palestinians are packed against the Egyptian border with nowhere further to flee – is terrifying, given the prospect that an extremely high number of civilians, again mostly children and women, will likely be killed and injured,” he said in a statement.

According to Amnesty International, Israel has previously carried out air strikes on Rafah in December 2023, after a humanitarian pause had ended, and in January 2024, killing at least 95 civilians, including 42 children, at a time when it was supposedly the “safest” area in the strip. 

The organisation added that in their investigations, they could “not find any indication that the residential buildings hit could be considered legitimate military objectives or that people in the buildings were military targets".

Amnesty has since raised concerns that these strikes were therefore direct attacks on civilians and civilian objects and must be investigated as war crimes.

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