Heavy fighting continues in the southern Gaza Strip. Baerbock calls for compliance with international humanitarian law. And Israel faces defeat at the highest UN court. The overview.
In the midst of the heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip, the first preliminary decision in the explosive genocide case against Israel was made today at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.
This is not yet about the main accusation of genocide, but rather an urgent application for protective measures for the Palestinians. The International Court of Justice does not oblige Israel to end the military operation in the Gaza Strip. However, the United Nations’ highest court ordered Israel to take more protective measures for Palestinians.
Decisions of the Court are binding. Even if he has no power to enforce this, a reprimand from the highest UN court would still be a defeat for Israel. International pressure would probably continue to increase. The judges can also order that Israel report on measures taken to protect Palestinians. That would also have a considerable external impact.
Israel: Right to self-defense taken away
South Africa filed a lawsuit against Israel at the end of December, accusing the country of violating the Genocide Convention. It is the first time that Israel has had to face genocide charges before the UN court. At the hearing in the Peace Palace in The Hague about two weeks ago, Israel’s representative firmly rejected the allegations.
“Israel is at war with (the Islamist organization) Hamas, but not with the Palestinian people,” Israeli Foreign Ministry legal advisor Tal Becker said. Israel also rejected calls for an end to the military operation. The reason given was that this would deprive the country of its right to self-defense.
The reason for the Gaza war was a devastating massacre by Hamas and other extremists on October 7, 2023. Around 1,200 people were killed and around 250 were kidnapped from Israel. Israel blames Hamas for the casualties and suffering of civilians in the Gaza Strip.
Fierce fighting in the southern Gaza Strip
Meanwhile, 200 people were killed and 370 others injured in the coastal area in the last 24 hours alone, the Hamas-controlled health ministry said. This brings the number of deaths since the war began on October 7th to 26,083. 75 percent of them were women, children or older men. The number of injured rose to 64,487. The numbers can hardly be verified independently.
The Israeli military and Palestinian health services reported further heavy fighting to the west of the city of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip. At the beginning of the week, the Israeli military launched an offensive in the western part of Khan Yunis, into which it had not yet penetrated. The largest city in the southern Gaza Strip is considered a Hamas stronghold.
Israeli units bombed and shelled the area around Amal Hospital, the aid organization Palestinian Red Crescent said. The clinic is completely surrounded. Rescue workers and those seeking help could no longer reach them. According to eyewitnesses, the Israeli military also made intensive advances in the area around Nasser Hospital. Thousands of people are on the run.
The Israeli military announced during the night that in order to ensure the operation of the Nasser Clinic and the Amal Hospital in Khan Yunis, they were in contact with their directors and the medical staff on site. Before the operations against Hamas in the area, it was also ensured that both hospitals were supplied with sufficient fuel and supplies.
Israel’s army says it is continuing its intensive fighting in the city of Khan Yunis in the Gaza Strip today. The military said soldiers attacked dozens of Hamas targets there. There were also deaths in various operations. In the north of the Gaza Strip, the military again attacked “Hamas’ terrorist infrastructure”.
Baerbock appeals to Israel
In view of the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock urged Israel to comply with international humanitarian law when taking actions in Khan Yunis, for example.
On the sidelines of her East Africa trip, the Green Party politician said on Thursday evening in Nairobi, with a view to the heavy fighting in the city in the south of the Gaza Strip, that she was “extremely concerned” about the desperate situation of the people.
“There are also rules when it comes to the right to self-defense, and international humanitarian law also applies to the fight against terrorists,” said Baerbock. “Israel must comply with this just like all other states in the world – even in a difficult environment in which Hamas breaks all the rules and uses people as protective shields.”
CIA chief intervenes in hostage release negotiations
CIA chief Bill Burns reportedly plans to travel to Europe in the coming days to negotiate the release of hostages held by Hamas. As CNN reported on Thursday, citing US officials familiar with the plans, Burns wants to talk to the intelligence chiefs of Israel and Egypt as well as the Prime Minister of Qatar about an agreement to release the remaining hostages.
The meetings with Mossad Director David Barnea, Egyptian intelligence chief Abbas Kamel and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani are expected to take place in Europe. The Washington Post first reported on such plans.
According to Israeli information, out of more than 130 hostages, only a little over 100 are likely still alive. Discussions about a release have recently picked up speed again.
White House: Negotiations on new hostage deal continue
After almost four months of war in the Gaza Strip, the US government is hoping for a new agreement to release more hostages from the Islamist Hamas. National Security Council Communications Director John Kirby said on Friday in Washington that they are hopeful about progress, but do not expect any immediate developments. President Joe Biden spoke about the issue on Friday with both Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani.
UNRWA checks: Were employees involved in Hamas terror?
The UN Palestinian relief agency UNRWA wants to examine the possible involvement of several of its employees in the Hamas massacre in Israel. “I have taken the decision to immediately terminate the contracts of these employees and launch an investigation to immediately find out the truth,” UNRWA Commissioner-General Philippe Lazzarini said, according to a statement from the UN agency. They are “shocking allegations.” Israel has provided UNRWA with information about the alleged involvement of several employees. “Any UNRWA staff involved in terrorist attacks will be held accountable, including through criminal prosecution.”
UN Secretary-General António Guterres was shocked by the news that several UNRWA employees could be involved in the terrorist attacks in Israel. He also threatened those affected with immediate dismissal and criminal consequences if the investigation revealed their involvement in the attacks.
“Anyone who betrays the core values of the United Nations also betrays those we serve in Gaza, throughout the region and elsewhere in the world,” Lazzarini continued. More than two million people in the Gaza Strip have been in need of aid since the war began. Lazzarini did not provide details about how employees may have been involved in the terrorist attack on Israel or how many people were involved.
WHO as an “informant” of Hamas? UN organization contradicts Israel
The World Health Organization (WHO) has rejected Israeli allegations related to Hamas. WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus defended himself against allegations that the UN organization in the Gaza Strip, in “complicity” with Hamas, ignored the fact that the Islamists had misused clinics as bases and to detain hostages. “Such false claims are harmful and can endanger our employees who risk their lives to serve vulnerable people,” Tedros said in Geneva.
Meirav Eilon Shahar, Israel’s UN ambassador in Geneva, told the WHO Executive Board on Thursday that the UN organization was ignoring concrete evidence from Israel. “The WHO knew that hostages were being held in hospitals and that terrorists were active there,” she said. “That’s not incompetence, that’s complicity,” she said. The diplomat used the English word “collusion”, which can also be translated as “tacit tolerance”.
Israel: Hezbollah prevents agreement in the border area
Israel’s Defense Minister Joav Galant accuses the Lebanese Hezbollah of further inflaming tensions on the border between the two countries. The Iranian-backed militia is refusing to withdraw its fighters from the border area, thereby preventing the possibility of reaching an agreement, he said, according to his office.
Galant said Israel would prefer to reach an agreement through diplomatic channels. The USA is also pushing for a diplomatic solution to the conflict. Since the beginning of the Gaza war after the Hamas massacre in Israel on October 7th, there have been repeated confrontations between Israel’s army and militant groups such as Hezbollah in the Israeli-Lebanese border region.
British authorities: Missile attack on ship in Gulf of Aden
There was another rocket attack on a ship off the Yemeni coast. As the British Navy agency UKMTO announced, two rockets exploded in the water near an unnamed ship in the Gulf of Aden, southwest of the Yemeni port city of the same name.
The crew was safe and there was no damage. The ship continues its course to the next destination port. Coalition forces responded to the attack, the statement continued. Ships were warned to be cautious and to report any suspicious activity.
The responsible regional command of the US military announced on X (formerly Twitter) in the afternoon that the Houthis had fired an anti-ship ballistic missile at a US Navy destroyer in the Gulf of Aden. The rocket was shot down. There was no damage or injuries.
Since the beginning of the Gaza war between Israel and the Islamist Hamas, the Houthis – out of solidarity with Hamas – have repeatedly attacked freighters with alleged Israeli connections off the Yemeni coast.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.