GAZA STRIP: A man records the names of the deceased during the funeral of Palestinians killed in overnight Israeli strikes at a cemetery in Rafah, on Wednesday.—AFP
GAZA STRIP: A man records the names of the deceased during the funeral of Palestinians killed in overnight Israeli strikes at a cemetery in Rafah, on Wednesday.—AFP

LONDON: A UK parliamentary committee has raised alarm over the “savagery” in Gaza after returning from a visit to Al-Arish in Egypt’s Sinai desert his week.

Members of the International Development Committee, which examines FCDO expenditure, visited Al-Arish which is effectively a logistics hub for aid going into the tightly controlled crossing into Gaza. MPs also visited a hospital on the site, where injured Palestinians are being treated.

Labour MP Sarah Champion, who chaired the committee, said upon return, “Nothing that has been reported braces you for the true scale of the horror in Gaza. We’re simply not getting accurate information about the levels of destruction and brutality.

“Listening to seasoned humanitarians tell us that what they’ve witnessed in Gaza makes it the worse disaster they’ve ever seen really brought home the savagery befalling civilians. Aid workers repeatedly questioned why international law wasn’t being followed or upheld in relation to civilians, humanitarians and medics.”

A statement published by the IDC said the committee was informed about apprehensions that Israel intends to press ahead with a full-scale offensive in Rafah, which was previously designated as the last ‘safe zone’ in Gaza.

“Well over half of Gaza’s population of 2.3 million are now sheltering in Rafah — which previously housed less than 300,000. Many of these people have been internally displaced multiple times, after following sequential Israeli instructions to move to ‘safe areas’.

Rafah has now been subject to repeated aerial bombardment, inflicting further casualties and destroying more of the infrastructure needed for access and deployment of desperately needed food, water and medical aid,“ the report said.

Ms Champion added, “We learned about the lawlessness in Gaza, with Hamas police being killed and civilians getting increasingly desperate. Personally I fear that unless something happens to stabilise the situation, the remaining UN support will withdraw, leaving Palestinians utterly alone.

“Politicians around the world need to demand an immediate end to the violence, full access for aid and a long-term strategy to rebuild Gaza; both its infrastructure and its society.”

Since October 7, the IDC has held two evidence hearings in the UK Parliament with aid agencies working on the ground in Gaza, hearing “shocking and horrifying evidence of the desperate and deteriorating” humanitarian and healthcare situation there.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2024

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