Israel pounds Rafah even after ICJ ruling

Published May 25, 2024
Smoke rises during an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 24. — Reuters
Smoke rises during an Israeli air strike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 24. — Reuters

CAIRO: Israeli forces stepped up military strikes on Gaza on Friday, with planes bombing targets in the southern city of Rafah even after the UN’s top court ordered Tel Aviv to halt its offensive there.

Heavy fighting was also reported in Jabalia, in the north, where Israel’s military said it had recovered the bodies of three prisoners killed during the Hamas raids on October 7.

It said the bodies of Hanan Yablonka, Michel Nisenbaum and Orion Hernandez Radoux were recovered on Thursday night in a joint operation by the army and the intelligence services.

In Rafah, where an escalating Israeli assault has sent hundreds of thousands of people fleeing from what was one of the few remaining places of refuge, residents reported intensifying aerial and ground bombardment in the south and centre of the city that borders Egypt.

Residents and Palestinian media reported a series of strikes hitting roads and houses in the Shaboura neighbourhood in central Rafah shortly after the ICJ ruling was read out in The Hague.

In northern Gaza, medics said five Palestinians were killed when houses were hit in Jabalia and more were believed to be trapped under rubble, but that the area could not be reached due to intensity of the bombardment.

Israel says its twin goals in Gaza are bringing back the remaining prisoners and destroying Hamas.

Simultaneous Israeli assaults on the northern and southern edges of Gaza this month have caused a new exodus of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fleeing their homes, and have cut off the main access routes for aid, raising the risk of famine.

Israel had said its forces cleared Jabalia, the largest of Gaza’s eight historic refugee camps, months earlier. But it returned there this month saying it needed to prevent “militants regrouping”, and the area has seen intense fighting in recent weeks.

Residents said on Friday tanks had destroyed the local market and bulldozers continued to raze shops and property in Jabalia’s narrow alleys. Hamas’s armed wing said its fighters had engaged three tanks there.

Tanks also advanced close to the nearby Kamal Adwan Hospital, where medics said Israeli fire had caused the suspension of operations at the last functioning medical facility in northern Gaza Strip.

Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2024

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