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Genocide Prevention Group Issues 'Urgent SOS Warning' as Israel Takes Aim at Rafah

The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention said that if U.S. President Joe Biden "fails to act on his own words" to prevent genocide in Gaza, "his betrayal of humanity will be remembered by the world forever."

Palestinians watch from their home on April 2, 2024 as rescue teams transfer the bodies of people killed by Israeli airstrikes in Rafah, Gaza. (Photo: Mohammed Abed/AFP via Getty Images)

The Lemkin Institute for Genocide Prevention, an organization named after the Polish lawyer who coined the term genocide, issued what it called an "urgent SOS warning" on Tuesday for Palestinians in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than half of the enclave's population is currently sheltering with nowhere else to go.

The group said Israel's flurry of airstrikes on Rafah last week "could be the opening salvo to Israel's promised ground invasion of the town, which is home to the critical crossing to Egypt." Reutersreported that one of the Israeli strikes killed 11 members of a single family.

"This bombing is a genocidal act conducted by Israel against a trapped civilian population," the Lemkin Institute said.

The group's statement came after U.S. and Israeli officials met virtually on Monday to discuss the Biden administration's proposed "alternatives" to a large-scale ground invasion of Rafah, which is currently home to more than 1.5 million people—most of them displaced from other parts of the enclave.

The meeting came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled earlier plans for bilateral Rafah talks following the U.S. decision last week not to veto a cease-fire resolution at the United Nations Security Council.

Instead of launching a full-scale ground assault on the city, the Biden White House pushed Israel during the meeting "to take more targeted actions to kill or capture Hamas leaders while limiting civilian impacts," according toThe Associated Press.

The White House said in a statement following Monday's virtual meeting that "the two sides over the course of two hours had a constructive engagement on Rafah."

"They agreed that they share the objective to see Hamas defeated in Rafah," the statement reads. "The U.S. side expressed its concerns with various courses of action in Rafah. The Israeli side agreed to take these concerns into account and to have follow-up discussions between experts."

In its statement on Tuesday, the Lemkin Institute noted that U.S. President Joe Biden has described an Israeli ground invasion of Rafah as a "red line" for his administration. Politicoreported last month that Biden would "consider" placing conditions on U.S. military aid to Israel if it goes ahead with an invasion of Rafah.

Echoing a growing number of U.S. lawmakers from both chambers of Congress, the Lemkin Institute urged Biden to comply with U.S. laws prohibiting weapons transfers to countries violating human rights and obstructing the delivery of American humanitarian aid—both of which Israel has done repeatedly since October.

"If the U.S. president fails to act on his own words to prevent the further genocide of the people of Gaza and to behave in accordance with the rules-based international order he purports to prize," said the Lemkin Institute, "his betrayal of humanity will be remembered by the world forever."


(c) Common Dream, 2024


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