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Israel pursues Rafah offensive despite UN court ruling

Tel Aviv, May 25: Israel’s armed forces were active in the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, despite a call by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an immediate end to the military operation in Rafah. Israeli soldiers killed several Palestinian gunmen who had previously fired at the Israelis, the army said. Further weapons caches and tunnel shafts were found in Rafah. The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that one civilian was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the city, which borders Egypt. None of the information could be independently verified.

On Friday, the ICJ ordered Israel to immediately end the military operation in Rafah, as part of a case brought by South Africa. According to the judges, the humanitarian situation in Rafah is now “disastrous.” Further measures are necessary to prevent further harm to the civilian population, they said. Israel rejected the ruling, saying it has a “right to defend its territory and its citizens, consistent with its moral values and in compliance with international law.”

The war in Gaza was triggered by the unprecedented massacre of more than 1,200 people by terrorists from the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group and other militants on October 7. Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive. The criticism of Israel has grown as the death toll among Palestinians has increased. It currently stands at over 35,000 people dead, according to Hamas authorities in Gaza. As in previous days, the fighting in Gaza on Saturday centred on the refugee settlement of Jabalia in the north of the coastal strip. According to the army, Israeli soldiers killed dozens of enemy fighters in the last 24 hours, partly in close combat and partly through targeted airstrikes.

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