24 May 2024, 17:26

Israel strikes Gaza as world court ruling due

GAZA STRIP, Palestinian Territories, May 24, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Israeli
forces carried out strikes on Gaza and battled militants on the ground
Friday, as the UN's top court was due to rule on a plea to halt the military

Witnesses and AFP correspondents reported overnight air and naval strikes on
Gaza City and gunfire to its south.

At least five people were killed when a family home in the city's Al-Daraj
neighbourhood was hit, Gaza's Civil Defence agency and an emergency doctor at
Al-Ahli hospital said.

In northern Gaza's Jabalia area, where urban combat has flared again months
after the start of Israeli operations there, the military said the bodies of
three hostages had been retrieved in an operation during the night.

The military said the bodies of Israeli hostage Chanan Yablonka, Brazilian-
Israeli Michel Nisenbaum and French-Mexican Orion Hernandez Radoux had been
"rescued" and their families had been notified after forensic identification.

They were all "murdered" during the October 7 attack that sparked the war and
taken into Gaza, the army said.

It follows the recovery last week of four bodies of hostages found in tunnels
under Jabalia, including of Hernandez Radoux's girlfriend Shani Louk.

The military reported targeted raids in Jabalia and ongoing activity in
central Gaza, and said "troops eliminated dozens of terrorists" in the north.

A Palestinian security source told AFP there were clashes between Israeli
forces and militants in the town of Jabalia and its refugee camp, with
another source at Kamal Adwan hospital saying it was "out of service, and has
14 medical staff trapped inside".

- ICJ ruling on ceasefire -

Along with Al-Awda, Kamal Adwan is one the last two functioning hospitals
north of Gaza City, both of which are besieged, according to the World Health

Other facilities across Gaza are suffering severe shortages of medical
supplies and fuel to power generators, according to UN and Palestinian

Israel in early May launched an assault on Rafah, the last Gazan city to be
entered by its ground troops, defying global opposition and sending more than
800,000 people fleeing, according to UN figures.

Troops took over the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with
Egypt, further slowing the sporadic arrival of trucks carrying badly needed
aid for Gaza's 2.4 million people.

In a statement Friday, the Israeli army said its "troops are continuing
operations against terror targets" in the southern city, where they had
"destroyed weapon storage facilities" and tunnel shafts.

A local Palestinian source said military vehicles were advancing from eastern
Rafah towards the city centre.

As the hostilities continued, the International Court of Justice is set to
rule Friday on a plea to halt the Israeli military offensive in Gaza over
accusations of "genocide".

The ICJ, whose orders are legally binding but lack direct enforcement
mechanisms, stopped short of ordering a ceasefire in an interim ruling in
January but instructed Israel to do everything possible to prevent genocidal

South Africa, which filed the case later formally supported by Israel-Hamas
mediator Egypt, argued the ongoing Israeli operation in Rafah should compel
the UN court to issue fresh emergency orders.

The case, which Israel says should be dismissed, could add to mounting
international pressure for a truce and hostage release more than seven months
into the war.

Meanwhile, arrest warrants related to the war are pending at the
International Criminal Court, and three European countries said they would
formally recognise a Palestinian state on Tuesday.

Israel's top diplomat on Friday singled out remarks by the Spanish
government's number three Yolanda Diaz, who had vowed to push for freedom
"from the river to the sea" -- a slogan critics view a call for the
elimination of Israel.

Foreign Minister Israel Katz said in a post on X he had decided to "prohibit
the Spanish consulate in Jerusalem from providing services to Palestinians
from the West Bank", a territory occupied by Israel since 1967.

It was not immediately clear how Israel would carry out the threat, and the
foreign ministry did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.

- Truce talks -

The Gaza war broke out after Hamas's unprecedented attack on October 7
resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according
to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37
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-run territory's health

Netanyahu, facing rising domestic pressure to secure the release of captives
still held by Palestinian militants in Gaza, would soon address the US
Congress, House Speaker Mike Johnson announced Thursday.

The United States, a steadfast ally of Israel during the war, has seen
President Joe Biden increasingly push Netanyahu to reduce the violence,
threatening to halt arms supplies amid a rising civilian death toll.

An AFP photographer saw a group of Israeli activists rallying outside the US
consulate in Jerusalem, carrying banners that call to "Free Gaza" and "Stop
arming genocide", before being removed by security forces.

Ceasefire talks involving US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators ended shortly
after Israel launched the Rafah operation, though Netanyahu's office this
week said the war cabinet had asked the Israeli delegation "to continue
negotiations for the return of the hostages".

CIA chief Bill Burns is expected to hold talks in Paris with Israeli
representatives on Friday or Saturday in a bid to relaunch negotiations, a
Western source close to the issue said.

Gaza's interior ministry said Thursday senior Hamas commander Diaa al-Din al-
Sharafa had been killed by an Israeli strike in central Gaza, in a rare
acknowledgement from Hamas of a high-ranking fatality.



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