Israeli offensive on Rafah would be a humanitarian catastrophe, says Germany

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 1:41 PM

(Reuters) – An Israeli offensive on the Gaza city of Rafah where 1.3 million people have sought refuge would be a humanitarian catastrophe, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Wednesday.

Speaking at a news conference in Jerusalem, Baerbock said: “1.3 million people are waiting there in a very small space. They don’t really have anywhere else to go right now … If the Israeli army were to launch an offensive on Rafah under these conditions, it would be a humanitarian catastrophe.”

Baerbock said Germany was pushing the European Union to examine sanctions against extremist settlers who attack Palestinians in the occupied West Bank after France, Washington and Britain imposed sanctions on violent settlers.

“Let’s agree on sanctions together in Europe. For this we need all 27 member states. We as Germans have pushed this on the European path,” she said, adding that in the Schengen free movement zone, a national entry bans could only take effect if they are enacted by the entire bloc.

(Reporting by Riham Alkousaa in Berlin; Editing by Sandra Maler)