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War in the Middle East: Israel before the International Court of Justice

War in the Middle East: Israel before the International Court of Justice

Israel will respond to genocide allegations at the International Court of Justice. While there is fighting in Gaza, the question of its political future remains open. The news at a glance.

Tel Aviv/The Hague – Israel must today justify its controversial military operation in Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip before the International Court of Justice in The Hague. The highest UN court is hearing an application from South Africa.

Its government is insisting on Israel’s immediate withdrawal from the city of Rafah and unhindered access for humanitarian aid. The foreign ministers of 13 states, including Germany, also warned in a letter of a comprehensive offensive in Rafah and also called for more help for the Palestinian population.

Israel continues Rafah offensive

Despite warnings from the US and other allies, Israel is continuing the attacks on Rafah, where it says it wants to destroy one of the last strongholds of the Islamist Hamas. The government of the Jewish state invoked its right to self-defense after terrorists from Hamas and other extremist groups attacked southern Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 250 others hostage.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry released a statement saying South Africa was distorting reality and presenting biased and false accusations to the court.

According to the “Süddeutscher Zeitung”, the foreign ministers’ letter to Israel’s chief diplomat Israel Katz requesting restraint was signed by the heads of departments of all G7 states with the exception of the USA, i.e. Germany, France, Great Britain, Italy, Japan and Canada. There are also Australia, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea and Sweden.

More than half a million people fled Rafah

Just yesterday, Israeli Defense Minister Joav Galant announced the deployment of additional troops to Rafah. Hundreds of targets have already been hit there and several Hamas tunnels have been destroyed. “This activity will be intensified,” Galant said.

According to the UN, around 600,000 people have already fled the city on the border with Egypt. Federal Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned: “The people there don’t know what to do and no longer have any safe places to which they can flee. But the protection of the civilian population must have the highest priority. That is not apparent at the moment.”

Arab League calls for UN peacekeeping mission for Gaza

The member states of the Arab League are now calling for the deployment of a UN peacekeeping mission in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. There must be “international protection and peacekeeping troops” from the United Nations in the Palestinian territories until a two-state solution is implemented, said the final declaration of the league’s summit in Bahrain.

The UN Security Council, which can issue mandates for peace missions, must take responsibility. It was the first regular league summit since Israel’s military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip began seven months ago.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres also attended the meeting and again called on the warring parties to agree on a ceasefire. “The war in Gaza is an open wound that threatens to infect the entire region,” warned Guterres. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince and de facto ruler, Mohammed bin Salman, emphasized that the “violent aggression” against the Palestinians must be stopped with joint strength.

Netanyahu on Gaza’s future: No “Fatahstan after Hamastan”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected criticism from his defense minister that the government lacked a plan for who would govern the Gaza Strip after the war. During a visit to southern Israel, Netanyahu said, according to media reports, that he would have a conversation with Galant shortly.

Galant had previously said that a political alternative must be created to the rule of the Islamist Hamas in the Gaza Strip, against which Israel has been taking military action since October. Asked whether this meant bringing the West Bank Palestinian Authority into Gaza, Netanyahu said: “I am clearly against exchanging Hamastan for Fatahstan.”

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement is the leading party in the West Bank. It was defeated by Hamas in parliamentary elections in 2006, and a year later Hamas violently seized sole control of the Gaza Strip. Since then, there have been de facto two separate Palestinian governments – one in Gaza and one in the West Bank.

US House of Representatives votes to send ammunition to Israel

Meanwhile, the US House of Representatives has voted for a bill that would force President Joe Biden to stop arms sales to Israel. The text was approved with 208 votes from Republicans and 16 votes from Biden’s Democrats, but is likely to fail in the Senate, where the president’s party has the upper hand.

Biden had previously said he would veto the bill if it passed Congress. The text calls on his administration to expeditiously carry out all arms transfers to Israel already approved by Congress.

The US government is currently holding back an ammunition shipment because of Israel’s actions in Rafah. She has repeatedly made it clear that she rejects a major offensive by the Israeli army in the city, which is overcrowded with internally displaced people from other parts of the Gaza Strip. Biden threatened Israel last week that a major ground offensive could have consequences for US arms supplies.

Source: Stern

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