Winston Peters says Israel's actions getting 'out of hand' ahead of planned Rafah offensive

Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has joined with the leaders of Australia and Canada to express grave concern about Israel's planned ground offensive into the southern Gazan city of Rafah.  

It's the strongest statement from New Zealand yet as the number of people killed in the conflict continues to climb.   

Vehicles packed to the brim with everything they have left fleeing the final supposed safe haven in Gaza. 

Rafah, usually a city of 250,000, now has an estimated 1.5 million Palestinians sheltering there, but Israel is planning a ground offensive. So they must flee - back to bombed out buildings – with ruins now perhaps safer.  

With that, New Zealand's Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters says enough.  

"The level of inhumanity is out of all proportion now and whether it is justified or not, the reality is we can't justify this," Peters said.  

New Zealand, Australia and Canada are standing together to call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire and urging Israel not to go into Rafah.   

The statement says: "A military operation into Rafah would be catastrophic" and "devastating".  

"We urge the Israeli Government not to go down this path. There is simply nowhere else for civilians to go."  

The statement goes on, "there is growing international consensus. Israel must listen to its friends and it must listen to the international community."   

"Palestinian civilians cannot be made to pay the price of defeating Hamas."   

Peters said: "We expect to be listened to."  

Rafah is already on edge. Israel targeted airstrikes there earlier this week. Two hostages held by Hamas were returned, but the price was dozens killed.   

Ibrahim Hassouna lost his entire family in such a violent way, he could only identify them by the scraps of clothing left.  

Peters said he wasn't being critical of Israel's "outrage" after October 7, but "this is now way, and has been for some time, out of hand".  

A conflict out of hand with no end in sight.