GAZA: A medic prepares the body of a child killed in a Zionist strike ahead of a group funeral at a clinic in Gaza City on May 25, 2024. - AFP
GAZA: A medic prepares the body of a child killed in a Zionist strike ahead of a group funeral at a clinic in Gaza City on May 25, 2024. - AFP

Zionists hit Rafah, ignore ICJ order

Kuwait welcomes verdict • Zionist soldier burns Holy Quran • Macron meets Arab FMs

GAZA: Zionist air strikes and artillery pounded Rafah on Saturday, as the government dismissed a UN top court’s order to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gazan city. At the same time, renewed international efforts were underway aimed at securing a ceasefire in the war. A Zionist official said on Saturday the government had an “intention” to restart stalled negotiations “this week”.

In a case brought by South Africa alleging the Zionist military operation amounts to genocide, the International Court of Justice ordered the Zionist entity to halt its Rafah offensive and demanded the immediate release of captives still held by Palestinian fighters. The Hague-based ICJ, whose orders are legally binding but lack direct enforcement mechanisms, also instructed the Zionist entity to keep open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, which Zionist troops took over earlier this month, effectively shutting it.

Kuwait on Saturday welcomed the International Court of Justice’s verdict against the Zionist occupying forces to stop their aggression on Rafah. In a press release, the ministry of foreign affairs stressed the necessity to implement all temporary measures announced by the ICJ since South Africa filed the lawsuit against the Zionist occupying forces. The press release reiterated the call on the international community to shoulder its due responsibilities and obligate the Zionist entity to halt all forms of aggression against the Palestinian people.

The Zionist entity gave no indication it was preparing to change course in Rafah, insisting the court had got it wrong. The ruling said the Zionist entity must “immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part”. Hamas, the Islamist group that has ruled Gaza since 2007, welcomed the ICJ ruling on Rafah but criticized its decision to exclude the rest of the Palestinian territory from the order.

The Zionist entity carried out strikes throughout the Gaza Strip early on Saturday as fighting raged between the army and Palestinian fighters. Witnesses and AFP teams reported Zionist strikes or shelling in Rafah, the central city of Deir al-Balah, Gaza City and Jabalia refugee camp in the north, and elsewhere.

“We hope that the court’s decision will put pressure on (the Zionist entity) to end this war of extermination because there is nothing left here,” said Umm Mohammad Al-Ashqa, a Palestinian woman from Gaza City displaced to Deir al-Balah by the war. Mohammed Saleh, also interviewed by AFP in the central Gazan city, said the Zionist entity “considers itself above the law” and would not stop “the shooting or the war”.

Yahya, a 34-year-old in Gaza who did not give his full name for security concerns, said: “Perhaps these decisions... that (the Zionist entity) has not complied with, will make the Western world move more strongly (in favor) of our cause.” The ICJ ruling came days after Ireland, Spain and Norway said they would formally recognize a Palestinian state — a move the leaders of two other European states, Germany and Portugal, said Friday they were not ready to join. Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said on Saturday that “the precautionary measures set out by the ICJ... are compulsory. (The Zionist entity) must comply with them.”

In its ruling, the ICJ ordered the Zionist entity to allow UN-mandated investigators “unimpeded access” to Gaza to look into the genocide allegations. It also instructed the Zionist entity to open the Rafah crossing for the “unhindered provision at scale” of humanitarian aid and also called for the “immediate and unconditional release” of the captives held by Hamas in Gaza. The Zionist offensive has killed at least 35,903 people in Gaza, mostly women and children.

The Zionist army said Friday it had opened an investigation after images and a video were posted on social media of Zionist soldiers in Gaza burning books, including a copy of the Holy Quran. The viral video shows a soldier throwing a Holy Quran into a fire. Both the video and a photo were broadcast on Zionist television.

A journalist from investigative website Bellingcat said the bookshelves that appeared in the photo matched those in a library in Gaza City’s Al-Aqsa University. Since the war in Gaza broke out, Zionist soldiers have on multiple occasions been accused of posting content on their social media accounts that degrades Palestinian civilians.

A video that went viral in November showed a Zionist soldier dedicating an explosion in Gaza to his daughter on her birthday. Another video circulating in January showed a soldier dressing up in a dinosaur costume and loading a tank with shells. In February, the Zionist entity’s top military lawyer opened criminal investigations into several incidents of alleged misconduct by soldiers during the war. The incidents “raised suspicion of detainee mistreatment, deaths of detainees, pillaging, and the illegal use of force”, the Military Advocate General’s Corps said in a statement at the time.

On the diplomatic front, efforts have resumed to seek the first ceasefire in Gaza since a week-long truce and hostage release in November. The Zionist official told AFP that “there is an intention to renew these talks this week, and there is an agreement.” The official did not elaborate on the agreement, but Zionist media said Mossad chief David Barnea had agreed with US and Qatari mediators on a new framework for negotiations.

Barnea met with CIA chief Bill Burns and Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani over the weekend in Paris in a bid to relaunch negotiations, the reports said. The Qatari premier on Friday also attended a five-way meeting in Paris with President Emmanuel Macron and the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan over the Gaza war and ways to set up a Palestinian state alongside the Zionist entity, the French presidency said.

The French leader reaffirmed his opposition to the Zionist entity’s offensive in Rafah and new settlements in the occupied West Bank. He also called for an “immediate” ceasefire with the release of “all hostages” in Gaza.

The Zionist entity sent tanks and troops into Rafah in early May, defying global opposition. It has since ordered mass evacuations from Rafah, with the UN saying more than 800,000 people have fled the city. Troops took over the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, further slowing sporadic deliveries of aid for Gaza’s 2.4 million people.

The White House said on Friday that Egypt had agreed to temporarily send UN aid through another crossing near Rafah. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi agreed in a call Friday with his US counterpart Joe Biden to allow UN aid through the crucial Kerem Shalom crossing to conflict-torn Gaza, the White House said. “President Biden welcomed the commitment from President Al-Sisi to permit the flow of UN-provided humanitarian assistance” through the crossing, it said in a readout of the call. “This will help save lives.”

The security and humanitarian situation in the besieged territory remains alarming, with a risk of famine and most hospitals no longer functioning. The Kuwait Speciality Hospital in Rafah pleaded for fuel deliveries on Saturday “to ensure its continued operation”, saying it was the only one in the area still receiving patients. – Agencies

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