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UN Aid Agencies Reject Israeli Scheme for Latest and Smallest ‘Safe Zone’

The Israelis are scheming to force the Palestinian population into a so-called “safe zone” in the southwest corner of Gaza, ahead of an IDF move into southern Gaza. This scheme has been rejected by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, made up of 12 UN humanitarian agencies and 6 humanitarian NGOs. In a statement issued yesterday, which was also endorsed by the UN Relief and Works Agency, they declared: “We will not participate in the establishment of any ‘safe zone’ in Gaza that is set up without the agreement of all the parties, and unless fundamental conditions are in place to ensure safety and other essential needs are met and a mechanism is in place to supervise its implementation.

“Under the prevalent conditions, proposals to unilaterally create ‘safe zones’ in Gaza risk creating harm for civilians, including large-scale loss of life, and must be rejected. Without the right conditions, concentrating civilians in such zones in the context of active hostilities can raise the risk of attack and additional harm. No ‘safe zone’ is truly safe when it is declared unilaterally or enforced by the presence of armed forces,” the statement asserted.

Furthermore, “Any discussions around ‘safe zones’ must not detract from the parties’ obligation to take constant care to spare civilians—wherever they are—and meet their essential needs, including by facilitating rapid, safe and unhindered humanitarian access to all civilians in need.”

Finally, they note: “None of the humanitarian organizations we represent has been involved in preparing for the arrival of displaced people in any prospective ‘safe zone’—or ‘humanitarian zone’—in Gaza.”

In short, any “safe zone” designated by the Israelis will be anything but.