Australia, Britain warn of potentially devastating consequences of Israeli operation in Rafah

By Thomson Reuters Mar 22, 2024 | 1:15 AM

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australia and Britain said in a joint statement on Friday there were potentially devastating consequences of an Israeli ground invasion of Rafah in Gaza.

“Given the large number of displaced persons taking refuge in the area and lack of safe spaces in Gaza, ministers shared deep concern at the potentially devastating consequences for the civilian population of an expanded Israeli military operation in Rafah,” the statement said.

Israel says a ground invasion of Rafah is necessary to eliminate Hamas, despite countries including the United States warning of dire consequences for the more than a million Palestinians who have sheltered there since being displaced elsewhere in the Gaza Strip during the five-month-old war.

The statement was issued after the defence and foreign secretaries of Britain met with their Australian counterparts in Adelaide.

The two countries were also strongly critical of Russia’s continued invasion of Ukraine, and warned against destabilising military activity in the South China Sea, where China has been increasingly building a presence.

(Reporting by Alasdair Pal in Sydney; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)