Israel attacks Rafah a day after the ICJ ordered it to stop the offensive

  • Israel’s military action in Rafah continues despite the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering a halt to operations.
  • The ICJ ruling also calls for the immediate release of all hostages held by Palestinian militants and emphasizes the need for Israel to avoid actions that could lead to the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population in Rafah.
  • Ceasefire negotiations are underway in Paris.

Israel bombed the Gaza Strip, including Rafah, on Saturday, a day after the UN’s top court ordered it to halt military operations in the southern city as efforts begin in Paris to seek a ceasefire in the war. caused by the Hamas attack on October 7.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) also demanded the immediate release of all hostages still held by Palestinian militants, hours after the Israeli army announced that troops had recovered the bodies of three other captives from northern Gaza.

The Hague-based court, whose orders are legally binding but lack direct enforcement mechanisms, also ordered Israel to keep open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, which it closed earlier this month at the start of its assault on the city.

Israel gave no indication it was preparing to change course in Rafah, insisting the court had made a mistake.

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“Israel has not and will not carry out military operations in the Rafah area that create living conditions that could cause the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population, in whole or in part,” national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a joint statement with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. ministry spokesperson.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas, which has ruled Gaza since 2007, welcomed the ICJ ruling on Rafah but criticized its decision to exclude the rest of war-torn Gaza from order.

‘There is nothing left here’

Hours after the ICJ ruling, Israel carried out strikes in the Gaza Strip early Saturday as fighting continued between the Israeli army and the armed wing of Hamas.

Palestinian witnesses and AFP teams reported Israeli strikes in Rafah and the central city of Deir al-Balah.

“We hope that the court’s decision will put pressure on Israel to end this war of extermination, because there is nothing left here,” said Oum Mohammad Al-Ashqa, a Palestinian woman from Gaza City displaced to Deir al-Balah by the war.

“But Israel is a state that considers itself above the law. Therefore, I do not believe that the shooting or the war will stop except by force,” said Mohammed Saleh, also met by AFP in the central city of the Gaza Strip.

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In its long-awaited ruling, the ICJ said Israel must “immediately stop its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza living conditions that could lead to its total or partial physical destruction.” part”.

He ordered Israel to open the Rafah crossing for humanitarian aid and also called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza.

The Gaza war erupted after the Hamas attack on October 7 that killed more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

The militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 who the army says are dead.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,800 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-controlled territory’s Health Ministry.

The Israeli military said the three hostages whose bodies were recovered in northern Gaza on Friday – Israeli hostage Chanan Yablonka, Brazilian-Israeli Michel Nisenbaum and French-Mexican Orion Hern├índez Radoux – were “killed” during the Sept. 7 attack. October and their bodies were taken to Gaza.

Paris meetings

The court order comes ahead of separate meetings on the Gaza conflict in Paris between the CIA chief and Israeli representatives, on the one hand, and French President Emmanuel Macron and the foreign ministers of four key Arab states, for the other.

Ceasefire talks involving American, Egyptian and Qatari mediators ended shortly after Israel launched the Rafah operation, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said this week that the war cabinet had asked the Israeli delegation to ” to continue negotiations for the return of the hostages.

A Western source close to the matter said CIA chief Bill Burns was expected to meet Israeli representatives in Paris to relaunch negotiations.

On the other hand, French President Emmanuel Macron received the Prime Minister of Qatar and the Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers on Friday “to press for a ceasefire,” according to Cairo.

The French presidency said they held talks on the Gaza war and ways to establish a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The five countries discussed “the effective implementation of the two-state solution,” he added.

Washington said top US diplomat Antony Blinken also spoke with Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz about new efforts to achieve a ceasefire and reopen the Rafah border crossing as soon as possible.

‘End this nightmare’

Israeli ground troops began advancing toward Rafah in early May, defying global opposition.

Troops seized the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, further slowing sporadic aid deliveries to Gaza’s 2.4 million people.

But on Friday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi agreed in a call with his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden to allow U.N. aid through the other entry point into southern Gaza, the Kerem Shalom crossing from Israel, the agency said. White House.

The US military also set up a temporary jetty on the coast of Gaza to receive aid by sea, which a UN spokesman said had delivered 97 aid trucks after “a rocky start” a week ago.

The humanitarian and security situation in the territory remains alarming, with the risk of famine, hospitals out of service and around 800,000 people, according to the United Nations, having fled Rafah in the last two weeks.

UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths said the situation had reached “a moment of clarity”.

“Humanitarian workers and UN staff must be able to do their jobs safely,” he posted on social media site X on Friday night.

“At a time when the people of Gaza face famine… it is more critical than ever to heed the so-called events over the past seven months: free the hostages. Agree on a ceasefire. End this nightmare” .