Algeria warns Israel could use Iran attacks as pretext to invade Gaza's Rafah

Algeria warns Israel could use Iran attacks as pretext to invade Gaza's Rafah
The Algerian representative's deputy to the UN has warned against an Israeli assault on Rafah following the unprecedented attack by Iran over the weekend.
3 min read
15 April, 2024
Rafah, which borders Egypt's Sinai, is the last remaining shelter for Palestinians in Gaza [Getty]

Algeria warned on Sunday of Israel possibly using the Iran attack as a pretext to invade the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

The warning was issued by Nassim Qawawi, the deputy to Algeria’s permanent representative to the United Nations, during an emergency UN Security Council meeting to discuss recent escalations in the Middle East following Iran’s unprecedented attack on Israel.

Iran launched hundreds of drones and missiles on Israel in a retaliatory strike overnight Saturday-Sunday, in response to an April 1 Israeli airstrike on Tehran’s consulate in Syria’s capital, Damascus, which killed seven officers of the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including two top commanders.

The dangerous escalation left the region on edge as countries shut their airspace while the US, UK, and France helped Israel intercept the Iranian drones and rockets.

Following Israel’s deadly attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, Qawawi said his country warned "of the consequences of not putting an end to the Israeli occupation’s arrogant behaviour in the region."

"The truthfulness of these warnings is evident today," he said.

"The crises in the Middle East are interconnected, and some of them cannot be isolated from one another. The root causes of these crises, which is the Israeli occupation, must be dealt with," the Algerian delegate added.

Qawawi, whose country does not recognise Israel and has long supported the Palestinians, stressed the need for "recent developments not to cover up the central issue, which is the attack on the defenceless Palestinian people in Gaza, or to be used as a pretext or cover up to launch a ground attack on Rafah."

"Any attack on Rafah is completely rejected and must be avoided, and its repercussions will be disastrous for the region."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said over the weekend he would postpone the Rafah city offensive, but not call it off entirely.

Rafah, bordering Egypt’s Sinai, is Gaza’s last remaining shelter for Palestinians trapped in the besieged and bombed-out enclave, accommodating over a million people, or about half of the Gaza Strip’s population.

Netanyahu and his far-right government have ignored calls for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, vowing to continue the offensive – now in its seventh month – until it dismantles the Palestinian group Hamas.

Late last month, the UN Security Council finally demanded a ceasefire in Gaza, with Israel’s main ally, the US, only abstaining from voting after previously blocking several resolutions.

Israel’s current war on Gaza has killed over 33,700 people since October 7, mostly women and children, Gaza’s health ministry says. It has rendered much of the enclave uninhabitable and has pushed it to the brink of famine.

The air and ground offensive started on the day Hamas led an attack in southern Israel, killing around 1,170 people, according to Israeli tallies. More than 250 others were taken hostage.

Hamas and other Palestinian groups say the assault was in response to the occupation and continued aggression against the Palestinian people by Israel, which has acted with impunity for decades as Palestinians live under a siege in Gaza and under apartheid in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Mediation efforts between Israel and Hamas for a Gaza truce have so far failed.

The last truce which held for about a week was in November, which saw some Israeli and foreign captives released in return for Palestinian prisoners.