Israel 'does not respect' ICJ ruling on Rafah, say residents after continued strikes

At least four people were killed in a strike on an apartment in central Gaza, Wafa said, hours after the court's ruling

Smoke rises after an Israeli air strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip. EPA
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Israel bombed the Gaza Strip, including Rafah, on Saturday, hours after the International Court of Justice ordered it to stop its attack on the southern city, in a ruling that cited the “immense risk” to Palestinians in the enclave.

“This is not the first time the ICJ has issued a resolution that Israel has ignored,” Abu Ramzi Ajrami, a displaced Palestinian in west Rafah, told The National.

Abed Al Hakem Al Said, another Palestinian who was displaced from Gaza city to west Rafah agreed. “Each time the ICJ issues a resolution, Israel doesn’t respect it, so this resolution will not make any difference,” he said.

“Israel will not stop its operations because of the resolution. Israel acts as if it is the only country that controls the whole world and doesn’t care about anything.”

Hours after Friday's ruling by the ICJ, whose orders are legally binding but lack direct enforcement mechanisms, Israel carried out strikes on Gaza while clashes between the Israeli army and Hamas militants continued.

Israeli strikes were reported in the central city of Deir Al Balah, as well as Rafah.

“We have endured a lot through this war, and the ICJ hasn't done anything to benefit us. We are worried about the ongoing operation in Rafah and the possibility of its expansion,” Mr Ajrami added.

As well as calling for the military operation in the southern city to end, the ICJ ordered Israel to open the Rafah border crossing for aid, and refrain from any action that would lead to the “physical destruction” of Palestinians as a group.

Judges also demanded the immediate release of all hostages still held by Palestinian militants, hours after the Israeli military announced troops had recovered the bodies of three more of the captives from northern Gaza.

“The issue is that we don't want a resolution about stopping the operation in Rafah; it's about issuing a resolution to end the war entirely … We want a complete end to the war and calm in the West Bank,” said writer Hamed Abu Amra, who fled his home in Rafah for Al Mawasi, on Gaza's southern coastline.

“Israel's situation is critical now. It has lost a lot of support, and the internal political situation in Israel will determine whether they comply with the resolution or not.”

Israeli troops entered Rafah on May 7, despite pressure from the US and other world powers not to go ahead with a large-scale ground offensive.

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.

Elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian Wafa news agency reported that several people were killed and others injured in Israeli air strikes on Gaza city overnight.

“Israel will not comply with any resolution from the ICJ if it doesn't benefit them. They will reject the resolution, bolstered by support from other countries.” Mr Amra added.

Local sources said that bodies and injured people were pulled from a house in the Al Daraj neighbourhood of Gaza city.

At least four people were killed in an Israeli strike on an apartment north of Nuseirat camp, in the central Gaza Strip, Wafa said.

Ceasefire talks

The court order came ahead of Gaza ceasefire negotiations which are to resume next week in Paris.

Two sources told The National on Friday that talks in the French capital would bring together CIA director William Burns, his counterparts in Egyptian and Israeli intelligence and a senior delegation from Qatar.

Ceasefire talks involving US, Egyptian and Qatari mediators ended shortly after Israel launched the Rafah operation. This week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the war cabinet had asked the Israeli delegation “to continue negotiations for the return of the hostages”.

Mr Burns was expected to meet Israeli representatives in Paris in a bid to relaunch negotiations, a western source said.

French President Emmanuel Macron received the Prime Minister of Qatar and the Saudi, Egyptian and Jordanian foreign ministers on Friday “to press for a ceasefire”, according to Cairo.

The French presidency said they held talks on the Gaza war and ways to set up a Palestinian state alongside Israel.

The five countries discussed “the effective implementation of the two-state solution”, it said.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also spoke with Israeli war cabinet minister Benny Gantz about further efforts to achieve a ceasefire and reopen the Rafah border crossing, Washington said.

On Friday, Egypt agreed to a request by US President Joe Biden to temporarily deliver humanitarian aid and fuel to Gaza through the Israeli border crossing of Karam Abu Salem.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi's office said the agreement was reached during a telephone conversation between the Egyptian leader and President Biden.

The aid and fuel would be handed to the UN at the Israeli crossing.

It said this was a temporary measure until a “legal mechanism” is found to operate the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing.

Updated: May 26, 2024, 5:15 AM