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Strikes on Rafah despite ceasefire ordered by International Criminal Court

Photo: Agence France-Presse Palestinians look at the rubble of a family home damaged by Israeli bombing in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood of Rafah, southern Gaza, on May 20, 2024.

France Media Agency in Gaza

Posted at 10:11 a.m.

  • Middle East

The Israeli army bombs the Gaza Strip, including Rafah, on Saturday, the day after a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordering it to suspend its operations in this sector amid efforts in Paris to bring about a ceasefire. -fire between Israel and Hamas.

The highest court of the UN — whose decisions are legally binding but which lacks mechanisms to implement them — also ordered Israel to keep open the Rafah crossing, in the far south of the Gaza Strip, essential for the entry of humanitarian aid but closed after the launch of its ground operation in early May.< /p>

Israel has affirmed that it “will not carry out military operations in the Rafah area” that could “lead to the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population.”

His army launched ground operations there on May 7, with the objective of annihilating the last battalions of Hamas, the Islamist movement behind the attack on the ground Israeli on October 7.

Hamas, which took power in the Gaza Strip in 2007, for its part welcomed the ICJ's decision – which also ordered the “immediate release” of the hostages in Gaza – while lamenting that it is limited “only to Rafah”.

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In the process, Israeli bombardments continued in the Gaza Strip, notably in Khan Younes (south), Gaza City (north) and in several neighborhoods in the east and center of Rafah. In 24 hours, at least 46 additional deaths were recorded, according to the Hamas Ministry of Health.

“We want to see the Court's decision on the ground […] Enough, enough, enough of the war,” insisted Moamen Muchtaha, 33, a Palestinian from Gaza City, displaced like many of the 2.4 million Gazans.

Pressure on Israel

The Israeli army announced on Saturday that several fighters had been killed during “close combat” the day before in Jabalia (north) and during “tank fire” in the center. She also claimed to have “eliminated a terrorist cell that opened fire on her troops” in Rafah.

The war in the Gaza Strip began on October 7 after the attack on Israeli soil by Hamas commandos infiltrated from Gaza, leading to the death of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP count based on official Israeli data.

That day, 252 people were also taken as hostages into the Palestinian territory. After a truce in November which notably allowed the release of around a hundred of them, 121 hostages are still being held in Gaza, of whom 37 are dead, according to the army.

In response, the Israeli army launched a devastating offensive in the Palestinian territory, which left at least 35,903 dead, mainly civilians, according to the Ministry of Health of Hamas, a movement considered terrorist by Israel, the States -United and the European Union in particular.

The security and humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is alarming with a risk of famine and hospitals out of service. Around 800,000 people have fled Rafah, according to the UN.

Rome announced on Saturday the resumption of funding for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), which coordinates aid to Gaza. UNRWA had been put in trouble by Israel after accusations that some of its employees were involved in the October 7 attack.

Israel “only listens its extremist ideology of murder and destruction in order […] to increase the damage,” said Yahya, a 34-year-old Palestinian, in Rafah.

After almost eight months of war, the noose tightens a little more every day on Israel.

On Saturday, Madrid warned the country that the orders issued by the ICJ are “binding” and demanded their respect. “This also concerns […] the release of the hostages,” Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares wrote on X.

Shortly after, the G7 Finance called on Israel to “guarantee” banking services to Palestinian banks, after the country threatened this week to deprive them of access to their own banking system.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen stressed on Thursday that “these banking channels are essential”, particularly for carrying out export transactions on which the Palestinians depend.

< h2 class="h2-intertitre">Talks in Paris

Earlier this week, the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested the issuance of arrest warrants for alleged crimes committed in the Gaza Strip and in Israel against Hamas and Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Although the Israeli government criticized this announcement, it nevertheless ordered its negotiators to “return to the negotiating table to obtain the return of the hostages,” according to a senior official.

At the beginning of May, indirect discussions between Israel and Hamas, through Qatar, Egypt and the United States, did not result in a truce agreement associated with the release of hostages and Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.

CIA chief William Burns is expected in Paris to try to restart truce talks and French President Emmanuel Macron , received the Prime Minister of Qatar and the Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian Foreign Ministers on Friday.

According to the French presidency, the leaders discussed how to “increase and deepen their cooperation on humanitarian assistance” and the implementation of the “two-state solution.”

At the same time, the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken spoke with Benny Gantz, member of the Israeli war cabinet, about new efforts to achieve a cease-fire and reopen the terminal “as soon as possible”. of Rafah, Washington said.

Spain warns Israel that ICJ orders are “binding”

The Foreign Ministry of the Spanish government of socialist Pedro Sánchez warned Israel on Saturday that the orders issued by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) are “binding” and demanded their compliance.

“The orders of the ICJ, including that relating to stopping the Israeli offensive in Rafah, are binding. We demand their application,” wrote Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares on the social network X.

“This also concerns the ceasefire, the release of hostages and access to humanitarian aid. The suffering of the people of Gaza and the violence must end,” he added.

Spain has been one of the most critical European countries towards Israel since the start of the current conflict in Gaza

The Israeli government of Benjamin Netanyahu recalled its ambassador to Madrid this week for consultations, after Spain, Ireland and Norway announced on Wednesday that they would recognize the State of Palestine.

Israel also announced on Friday that it had “decided to cut the link” between the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem and the Palestinians, also due to an “anti-Semitic call” from the number three in the Spanish government, Yolanda Díaz, leader. of the far-left Sumar party and Minister of Labor.

“Today we welcome the fact that Spain recognizes the State of Palestine,” but “we cannot stop there. Palestine will be free from the river to the sea,” said Ms. Díaz on X, denouncing a “genocide of the Palestinian people”

Agence France-Presse, in Madrid

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116