Russia says Gaza war is escalating and no sign of any peace settlement

Aftermath of an Israeli strike on a house, in Rafah

By Dmitry Antonov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Wednesday that the war in Gaza was escalating due to Israel's incursion into Rafah and that Moscow so far saw no prospect for a peace settlement in Gaza or the wider Middle East.

Israel invaded Rafah, a southern Gazan city where more than one million displaced Palestinian civilians have sought shelter from Israel's offensive throughout the tiny territory.

"An additional destabilizing factor, including for the entire region, was the launch of an Israeli military ground operation in Rafah," Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told reporters.

"About one and a half million Palestinian civilians are concentrated there. In this regard, we demand strict compliance with the provisions of international humanitarian law."

Speaking more broadly about efforts to find a lasting settlement in the Middle East, Zakharova said: "I would like to call it a settlement, but, alas, it is far from a settlement."

"There are no prospects for resolving the situation in the Gaza Strip. On the contrary, the situation in the conflict zone is escalating daily."

The war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing about 1,200 people and abducting about 250 others, of whom 133 are believed to remain in captivity in Gaza, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel's offensive has killed nearly 35,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians, in the conflict, the Gaza Health Ministry said.

(Reporting by Dmitry Antonov; Writing by Olzhas Auyezov; editing by Guy Faulconbridge)