Israel bombs Rafah despite the ICJ ordering it to stop its offensive

Israel bombs Rafah despite the ICJ ordering it to stop its offensive
Israel bombs Rafah despite the ICJ ordering it to stop its offensive

10:05 AM

Israel bombed Rafah on Saturday, despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered it to suspend its operations in that area of ​​the Palestinian territory governed by Hamas, while diplomatic efforts to achieve a ceasefire continue in Paris.

Witnesses at the scene and AFP journalists reported shelling by Israeli troops against Rafah, a city in the south of the Strip bordering Egypt. There were also airstrikes and artillery fire on Deir al Balah and Nuseirat in the center, Jabaliya and Gaza City in the north, and Khan Yunis in the south.

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In response to a request from South Africa, the highest judicial body of the UN ordered Israel on Friday to stop its operation in Rafah and any other action that causes “total or partial physical destruction” of the Palestinian people in Gaza.

The ICJ also demanded the opening of the border crossing between Egypt and Gaza in Rafah, a humanitarian aid gateway that Israel closed at the beginning of the month when it began its operations in the city.

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The court, whose decisions are binding, although it has no means to implement them, also urged the Islamist movement Hamas to immediately release all hostages taken in its October 7 attack against Israel.

But neither side appears to have heeded the court’s demands. From Madrid, the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, warned Israel that the precautionary measures of the ICJ are “mandatory”, as well as “the release of the hostages” in the hands of Hamas and “humanitarian access”. because “the suffering of Gazans and the violence must end.”

The president of the Spanish government, Pedro Sánchez, in coordination with Norway and Ireland, announced that next Tuesday his cabinet will recognize Palestine as a State. Israel harshly criticized the initiative and called its ambassadors in those three countries for consultations.

The conflict broke out on October 7, when Islamist commandos killed more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, in southern Israel, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data.

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The militants also kidnapped 252 people. Israel claims that 121 remain hostages in Gaza, of which 37 would have died.

Hours before the ICJ’s decision, the Israeli army announced that it had recovered the bodies of three dead hostages from Gaza, including the French-Mexican Orión Hernández Radoux and the Israeli-Brazilian Michel Nisenbaum.

In response to the October attack, Israel launched an offensive against the Gaza Strip, in which 35,857 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have died so far, according to the Ministry of Health of the Hamas government.

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Indirect negotiations brokered by Qatar, Egypt and the United States stalled in early May, shortly after the start of Israel’s ground operations in Rafah.

But Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu authorized this week “continue negotiations for the return of the hostages.” Very involved in these conversations, the director of the CIA, William Burns, will meet in Paris with Israeli representatives.

In the same city, French President Emmanuel Macron met on Friday night with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Egypt and Jordan to address the situation in Gaza.

The head of American diplomacy, Antony Blinken, also spoke with the Israeli war cabinet minister, Benny Gantz, on new efforts to achieve a ceasefire and reopen the Rafah crossing as soon as possible.

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Despite opposition from the international community, including its American ally, Israeli troops entered the city of Rafah in early May.

Soldiers seized the Palestinian side of the border crossing with Egypt, further slowing the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza’s 2.4 million people.

The US military, for its part, installed a temporary dock on the coast of Gaza that, according to a UN spokesperson, has allowed 97 aid trucks to disembark in one week.

But the humanitarian situation in the territory is still alarming, with the risk of famine, hospitals out of service and some 800,000 people fleeing Rafah, according to the UN.

Its humanitarian chief, Martin Griffiths, said that “humanitarian workers and UN staff must be able to do their work safely.” “At a time when the people of Gaza are facing famine (…) it is more critical than ever to heed the calls of the last seven months: free the hostages, agree to a ceasefire, end this nightmare” , he stressed.

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