Israeli PM Orders Evacuation of Civilians Amid Planned Attack on Rafah
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the military to develop a plan for both evacuating civilians from Rafah and combating Hamas. The Palestinian UN envoy questioned where civilians will be evacuated amid the planned attack.
UN Chief Antonio Guterres stated that half of Gaza’s 2.3 million population is now crammed into Rafah with nowhere to go. Israeli snipers in Khan Younis killed at least 21 people, including medical staff, outside Nasser Hospital.
At least 27,947 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October, with 67,459 others wounded .
Israeli forces also intensified arrests in the town of Beit Ummar near Hebron, with 14 Palestinians detained and roads leading to the town closed.
UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese highlighted that Israel is in breach of the court’s orders, which instructed immediate steps to protect Palestinians’ rights and cease activities that could be considered genocide.
The ICJ had given Israel until 23 February to report on its compliance with six orders, including ending incitement to genocide and improving humanitarian aid supply. Despite negotiations, only marginal and incremental improvement has been observed since the court’s ruling on 26 January, prompting senior Western officials to express growing concern over the dire situation.
Some legal experts suggested that the acts mentioned are not prohibited if undertaken without genocidal intent. However, UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese stated that the ICJ mandated Israel to cease all activities that could constitute genocide.
Albanese noted that fatalities result from direct attacks, such as a scarcity of medical supplies and inadequate access to food and water, causing the consumption of contaminated water. At least 1,755 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since the ICJ’s order.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asserts Israel’s commitment to international law and defence, calling the ICJ case a “vile attempt to deny Israel this fundamental right.” The US, supporting Israel, deemed the ICJ case “meritless,” pointing out Israel’s inherent right to self-defence despite its 75-year-old occupation of the Palestinian territories and suppression of Palestinian people.
South Africa, the case initiator, plans to press further on Israeli compliance, while Nicaragua seeks to join the case, claiming Israel’s breach of the genocide convention. Algeria, leading the Arab nations on the UN Security Council, presented a resolution endorsing the ICJ’s orders and emphasising a humanitarian ceasefire as a prerequisite for implementation. The US opposed the resolution, citing potential harm to ongoing diplomatic efforts and hostage release negotiations.
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