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HomeworldUN rights chief raises alarm on 'possibly catastrophic' Gaza ground operation

UN rights chief raises alarm on 'possibly catastrophic' Gaza ground operation

GENEVA: The United Nations human rights chief on Saturday (Oct 28) warned of “possibly catastrophic consequences” of large-scale ground operations in the Gaza Strip, where thousands have already died in Israeli air strikes.

“Given the manner in which military operations have been conducted until now, in the context of the 56-year-old occupation, I am raising alarm about the possibly catastrophic consequences of large-scale ground operations in Gaza and the potential for thousands more civilians to die,” Volker Turk, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, said in a statement.

“Continued violence is not the answer.”

Volker also called on the warring parties and all other states with influence in the region “to do all in their power to de-escalate this conflict”.

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The Israeli military unleashed its bombing campaign after Hamas gunmen stormed across the Gaza border on Oct 7, killing 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and seizing more than 220 hostages, according to Israeli officials.

Israel sent troops into Gaza on Friday night and has pledged to continue doing so to target tunnels and other infrastructure used by Hamas.

The health ministry in the Hamas-run Gaza said Israeli strikes had killed 7,703 people, mainly civilians, including more than 3,500 children.

The UN rights chief also condemned the internet and telecommunications blackout that has hit the Palestinian enclave since Friday.

“Compounding the misery and suffering of civilians, Israeli strikes on telecommunications installations and subsequent Internet shutdown have effectively left Gazans with no way of knowing what is happening across Gaza and cut them off from the outside world,” he said.

“Ambulances and civil defence teams are no longer able to locate the injured, or the thousands of people estimated to be still under the rubble.

The conflict is the fifth and deadliest in Gaza since Israel unilaterally withdrew from the Palestinian territory in 2005.

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