Qatar condemns Israel's Rafah evacuation order; Hamas says ground offensive will 'destroy' talks

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Qatar condemns Israel's Rafah evacuation order; Hamas says ground offensive will 'destroy' talks
Credit: © Reuters.

Washington, Feb 11 (IANS) Qatar has condemned the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's order for the evacuation of 1.3 million Palestinians from Rafah, the south Gazan city on Egyptian border wherefrom hostages have crossed so far, ahead of an expanded offensive against Hamas.

Reacting to Israel's plan to launch a military offensive in Rafah, the Hamas leadership has said it would "destroy" ongoing hostage negotiations while the US warned that it would lead to "disaster".

UN and other aid organisations have also expressed serious concern saying the civilians in the strip have nowhere else to go.

Qatar on Sunday condemned "in the strongest terms" the Israel's plans for a ground offensive in Rafah, urging the UN Security Council to "prevent" Israel from committing what it described as "genocide", US media reports said.

Qatar's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on its website warned of "a humanitarian catastrophe in the city that has become the last refuge for hundreds of thousands of displaced people inside the besieged Strip".

The Gulf nation called on the Security Council "to take urgent action to prevent the Israeli occupation forces from invading Rafah and committing genocide, and to provide full protection to civilians under international law and international humanitarian law", the statement read.

The ministry said that it "affirms Qatar's categorical rejection of attempts to forcibly displace the Palestinian people from Gaza Strip".

Any Israeli ground offensive in the city of Rafah would mean the end of hostage negotiations, Hamas-run television channel Al-Aqsa reported Sunday. Hamas leadership sources said that an assault on Rafah would mean the "destruction" of negotiations that have been on-going for weeks.

"Netanyahu is trying to evade the obligations of the exchange deal by committing genocide and a new humanitarian catastrophe in Rafah," Al-Aqsa quoted the Hamas source as saying.

In a statement on Friday, Netanyahu's office said it had directed the military to plan for the "evacuation of the population" from Rafah in anticipation of a ground assault on the southern Gaza city.

--IANS

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