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File photo. Alamy

Israel bombs Rafah despite ICJ order for it to 'immediately halt' its offensive

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said in a statement last night that the “orders are crystal clear” and “must be complied with”.


ISRAEL HAS BOMBED Gaza, including Rafah, today despite an order from the UN’s top court for it to “immediately halt” its military offensive in the southern city.

Israeli warplanes and artillery pounded Rafah at the same time as renewed efforts were getting underway in Paris aimed at securing a ceasefire.

An Israeli official said the government had an “intention” to restart stalled negotiations over the coming days.

Witnesses and AFP teams reported strikes or shelling in Rafah, the central city of Deir al-Balah, and Gaza City and Jabalia refugee camp in the north.

In Gaza City, an AFP photographer saw a grieving woman embracing one of several bodies, some of children, which were shrouded in blood-stained white cloth and laid on the ground outside a clinic ahead of funerals.

They were killed in a strike on a school turned shelter in nearby Jabalia, according to a relative.

In a case brought by South Africa alleging the Israeli military operation amounts to “genocide”, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive, and demanded the release of hostages and the “unhindered provision” of humanitarian aid into Gaza. 

Tánaiste Micheál Martin said in a statement last night that the “orders are crystal clear” and “must be complied with”.

Martin added that it is his “heartfelt hope that we are reaching a turning point in this devastating conflict” and called for all parties to “intensify efforts to secure an immediate ceasefire, the unconditional release of hostages and massively scaled-up access and distribution of humanitarian aid”.

Martin said it was time to take “concrete and irreversible steps to implement a two-state solution” and that this would be his focus when he meet European and Arab counterparts in Brussels this week.

Writing in The Journal this morning, Taoiseach Simon Harris said that the world needs “a comprehensive and lasting ceasefire followed by peace”.

“We need an immediate emergency international operation in Gaza to save lives from further injury and disease.

Prime Minister Netanyahu, listen to the world. Please stop. A full-scale military operation in Rafah will be a catastrophe.

Israel gave no indication it was preparing to change course in Rafah, insisting the court had got it wrong.

“Israel has not and will not carry out military operations in the Rafah area that create living conditions that could cause the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population, in whole or in part,” National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said in a joint statement with Israel’s foreign ministry spokesman.

The Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s attack on 7 October attack resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on 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 35,857 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to data from the Hamas-run territory’s health ministry.

The Israeli military said yesterday the bodies of three hostages – the Israeli Chanan Yablonka, Brazilian-Israeli Michel Nisenbaum and French-Mexican Orion Hernandez Radoux – were recovered in Gaza’s north.

AFP 2024