[Urgent Appeal] Israel Must Immediately End its Attacks on Rafah and Accept a Ceasefire

Urgent Appeal: Israel Must Immediately End its Attacks on Rafah and Accept a Ceasefire

Human Rights Now condemns the recent escalation of attacks on Rafah by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), which began on Thursday, May 9, with the bombardment of the eastern side of the city by Israeli tanks, warplanes, helicopters, and drones.[1] These operations are already killing civilians and mirror the attacks the IDF made in advance of its invasion of Gaza City last October, raising fears that a full ground invasion of Rafah is imminent. Prime Minister Netanyahu also continues to reiterate that Israel will conduct ground operations in Rafah “with or without a deal”, despite the international calls against it.[2] Such an invasion would have catastrophic consequences for the 1.4 million Palestinians who have been forcibly displaced and concentrated into Rafah as a result of the IDF’s attacks elsewhere in Gaza, leaving them cornered against the Egyptian border.

Over 35,000 Palestinians have already been killed by the IDF to date, including over 14,500 children,[3] and a UN body has reported that the IDF has partially damaged or destroyed 360,000 buildings in Gaza, about 50% of all structures.[4] This includes at least 305 schools and universities, 32 hospitals which have been rendered non-operational, 290 mosques, and 168 public buildings.[5]

In January and March, the International Court of Justice issued two sets of preliminary measures against the government of Israel to take all possible measures in its power to prevent violations of article 2 of the Genocide Convention, which defines acts of genocide, and to ensure that the military does not commit acts which violate the rights of Palestinians in Gaza as a protected group.[6] The invasion of a densely populated city in a situation where it is virtually impossible to ensure the safety of the civilian population appears to be tacitly calculated to destroy that population in part. Furthermore, the humanitarian situation for Palestinians in Gaza has reached crisis levels as Israel has closed off the Gaza-Egypt crossing at Rafah, Gaza’s most vital access point to aid, risking a famine and dire loss of life.[7]

The international community must take urgent steps to pressure the government of Israel to accept an immediate cease fire and to greatly accelerate the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza. States should end any support to the government of Israel or the IDF, including the delivery of weapons and arms, and we call on the international community to support the establishment of an international weapons embargo against Israel.


[1] Nidal Al-Mughrabi, Mohammad Salem and Jarrett Renshaw, “Israel strikes eastern Rafah as ceasefire talks end with no deal”, Reuters, 10 May 2024, https://www.reuters.com/world/middle-east/us-warns-israel-that-rafah-invasion-will-jeopardise-weapons-supply-assault-2024-05-09/.

[2] Al Jazeera, “Netanyahu says Israel will invade Rafah as Gaza ceasefire talks continue”, 30 Apr. 2024, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2024/4/30/netanyahu-says-israel-will-invade-rafah-as-gaza-ceasefire-talks-continue.

[3] AJLabs, “Israel-Gaza war in maps and charts: Live tracker”, Al Jazeera, updated: 10 May 2024, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/longform/2023/10/9/israel-hamas-war-in-maps-and-charts-live-tracker.

[4] Necva Taştan, “360,000 buildings damaged or destroyed in Gaza Strip: ESCWA”, AA, 9 May 2024, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/360-000-buildings-damaged-or-destroyed-in-gaza-strip-escwa/3214148.

[5] Id.

[6] HRN, “Human Rights Now Statement on the Situation in Gaza”, 2 Apr. 2024, https://hrn.or.jp/eng/news/2024/04/02/gaza-statement-2/.

[7] Claire Parker, “Israeli closure of Rafah crossing cuts off Gaza’s most vital aid lifeline”, Washington Post, 8 May 2024, https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2024/05/08/israel-rafah-crossing-gaza-aid-famine/.