Palestinians attempt to salvage their belongings from the rubble of a damaged building in the city of Nuseirat, in central Gaza Strip, on Thursday.—AFP
Palestinians attempt to salvage their belongings from the rubble of a damaged building in the city of Nuseirat, in central Gaza Strip, on Thursday.—AFP

RAFAH / UNITED NATIONS: Birds sang and planes rumbled overhead as Abdeljabbar al-Arja dug the remains of his dead neighbours from the rubble in Gaza.

An overnight Israeli strike hit the home where a displaced Palestinian family was sheltering in the southern city Rafah, relatives and neighbours told AFP as they scraped at the soil with their hands.

“We retrieved the remains of children and women, finding arms and feet. They were all torn to pieces. This is horrifying, it’s not normal,” Al-Arja said, adding that at least 10 people were killed in the blast.

Soon after the war began on October 7, Israel told Palestinians living in the north of Gaza to move to “safe zones” in the territory’s south like Rafah.

Guterres warns against ‘full-scale regional conflict’; Washington expected to veto Palestinian bid for UN membership

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has since vowed to invade the city, where around 1.5 million people live in shelters, more than half the territory’s population.

“How is Rafah a safe place?” said Zeyad Ayyad, a relative of the victims.

In a separate strike on a house in Rafah’s Al-Salam neighbourhood overnight on Tuesday, rescue crews recovered the corpses of eight family members including five children and two women, Gaza’s civil defence service said.

Meanwhile, senior US and Israeli officials held a virtual meeting on Thursday expected to include a discussion of both Israel’s plans for the southern Gaza city of Rafah and its consideration of a retaliatory strike against Iran.

President Joe Biden has urged Israel not to conduct a large-scale offensive in Rafah to avoid more Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza, where Palestinian health authorities say more than 33,000 people have been killed in Israel’s assault.

‘Brink of disaster’

At the United Nations, Secretary General Antonio Guterres painted a dark picture of the situation in the Middle East, warning that spiraling tensions over the war in Gaza and Iran’s attack on Israel could devolve into a “full-scale regional conflict.”

Guterres also said Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip had created a “humanitarian hellscape” for civilians trapped in the besieged territory.

“Granting Palestine full membership at the United Nations will lift some of the historic injustice that succeeding Palestinian generations have been subjected to,” special Palestinian Authority envoy Ziad Abu Amr told the Council.

“It will open wide prospects before a true peace based on justice.”

“The Middle East is on a precipice. Recent days have seen a perilous escalation — in words and deeds… One miscalculation, one miscommunication, one mistake, could lead to the unthinkable – a full-scale regional conflict that would be devastating for all involved,” he said, calling on all parties to exercise “maximum restraint.”

His speech came hours before a vote in the Security Council on a Palestinian bid for full UN membership.

Any request to become a UN member state must first earn a recommendation from the Security Council — meaning at least nine positive votes out of 15, and no vetoes — and then be endorsed by a two-thirds majority of the General Assembly. But the US has already voiced its opposition, meaning that the initiative that will likely be vetoed.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2024

Editorial

Ominous demands
Updated 18 May, 2024

Ominous demands

The federal government needs to boost its revenues to reduce future borrowing and pay back its existing debt.
Property leaks
18 May, 2024

Property leaks

THE leaked Dubai property data reported on by media organisations around the world earlier this week seems to have...
Heat warnings
18 May, 2024

Heat warnings

STARTING next week, the country must brace for brutal heatwaves. The NDMA warns of severe conditions with...
Dangerous law
Updated 17 May, 2024

Dangerous law

It must remember that the same law can be weaponised against it one day, just as Peca was when the PTI took power.
Uncalled for pressure
17 May, 2024

Uncalled for pressure

THE recent press conferences by Senators Faisal Vawda and Talal Chaudhry, where they demanded evidence from judges...
KP tussle
17 May, 2024

KP tussle

THE growing war of words between KP Chief Minister Ali Amin Gandapur and Governor Faisal Karim Kundi is affecting...