Saturday, June 22, 2024

Israel bombed Rafah over 60 times in 48 hours after ICJ orders

Israel continues to ignore orders from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), including the Court’s most recent ruling. This ruling requires Israel to halt its military assault on the Rafah Governorate in the southern Gaza Strip and reopen the Rafah border crossing to facilitate the movement of people and humanitarian aid. In the 48 hours that followed the ICJ’s ruling on Friday 24 May, however, Israel conducted more than 60 air raids on Rafah.

Furthermore, dozens of artillery shells and constant gunfire were fired in areas of Rafah where the Israeli military was encroaching. Israel’s ground incursion began at dawn on 7 May and has since spread to the west and central parts of the city, mostly along the border strip. It has already impacted a significant portion of the city.

Thirteen Palestinians were killed in the 48 hours following the Court’s ruling, including six members of the Qishta family, an elderly mother and three of her children—two girls and one boy —and an adult son and his two children. The victims were killed when Israeli planes bombed their home on Saturday 25 May in Khirbet Al-Adas, north of Rafah, an area not included in the Israeli evacuation orders.

Three distinct air raids were also carried out on the same day (25 May) targeting the city’s Al-Shaboura Camp and Awni Dhair Street, resulting in the killing of five civilians.

A Palestinian was also killed and others were injured on Sunday afternoon when Israeli aircraft bombed the Rasras family’s house in the centre of Rafah city, while another Palestinian was killed and others were injured on the day of the Court session.

During the Court session to decide on South Africa’s request, the Israeli army increased its intense bombing of central Rafah, including the Shaboura camp. It destroyed numerous homes and streets, and later claimed that the incident was connected to an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate a leader in a Palestinian faction. As a result, civilians continue pay a heavy price for Israeli military attacks that flagrantly transgress international humanitarian law, particularly the principles of distinction, proportionality, and military necessity, i.e. taking appropriate precautions to avoid civilian deaths. It is important to note that these attacks are classified as war crimes under the Rome Statute.

Israel did not hold back in publicly rejecting the Court’s ruling. The bombing, killing, and destruction intensified immediately after the session ended. The Israeli government, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, swiftly denounced the Court’s decision and attacked it, citing religious statements that denigrate non-Jews. Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir responded, “Our future does not depend on what the gentiles say, but rather on what we Jews do.”

According to Israeli Channel 12, Netanyahu stated that “occupying Rafah and increasing military pressure on Hamas” is the proper response to the Court’s decision, which he called “antisemitic”.

The victims of the Israeli army’s bombing are still lying in the streets and under the debris of destroyed homes, particularly in the eastern and central parts of the city, as rescue workers and medical teams are unable to remove them from those areas, according to the Euro-Med Monitor field team.

In addition to the hundreds of housing units destroyed since the beginning of the most recent attack on Rafah, during which entire neighbourhoods were destroyed and reduced to rubble, the Euro-Med Monitor team had also previously received information about the destruction of approximately 170 housing units.

Meanwhile, the World Food Programme warehouse and the UNRWA distribution centre in Rafah remain inaccessible due to the ongoing Israeli military attack.

Since taking control of the Rafah border crossing on 7 May, Israeli forces have prevented the entry of humanitarian aid through it (beginning the day before, on 6 May) and have continued to keep it closed to sick and injured people seeking to receive medical treatment abroad.

Discussions about reaching a deal to allow aid trucks to pass through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which Israel closed on 5 May, do not address the root causes of the issue, nor do they provide for the 2.3 million people living in the Strip. These individuals are victims of ethnic cleansing and genocide and once more face the threat of starvation, as eight months have passed since the start of the Israeli aggression.

According to UNRWA, the current Israeli military operation in Rafah is directly impacting the ability of aid agencies to bring critical humanitarian supplies into the Strip, as well as the ability to rotate critical humanitarian staff. From 1–20 May, according to OCHA, 14 missions which were heading to Kerem Shalom to collect aid supplies encountered delays due to traffic congestions blocking the road and delayed clearance by Israeli authorities, resulting in six missions being aborted. During this reporting period (20–22 May), the border crossings were only opened for one day, and only 39 trucks entered the Strip via the Kerem Shalom and Rafah land crossings. Only 143 trucks have entered the Gaza strip via the Karem Abu Salem crossing since 6–20 May.

Israel is continuing its crimes in defiance of the highest international justice body, which issued precautionary measures to prevent genocide on 26 January 2024 and additional precautionary measures on 28 March 2024, plus its latest precautionary measures, issued last Friday. Israel has been carrying out the crime of genocide against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip continuously since 7 October 2023, with no real accountability for its crimes, amid the ongoing failure of the international community to protect the Palestinian people from this blatant genocide.

Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor reiterates its call on all nations to fulfil their international obligations and halt all military, political, and financial support for Israel’s military assault on the Gaza Strip. In particular, all arms transfers to Israel, including export permits and military assistance, must end immediately; otherwise, these nations will be considered complicit in Israeli crimes committed in the Strip, including genocide.

Furthermore, Euro-Med Monitor urges the International Criminal Court (ICC) to acknowledge and handle Israel’s crimes in the Gaza Strip as international crimes, as they fall under the Court’s jurisdiction. Additionally, Euro-Med Monitor asks the Court to expand its lists of arrest warrants to include more Israeli officials.

The United Nations must send fact-finding and investigative committees to the Gaza Strip, defy Israel’s decision to forbid such committees from entering the Strip, and make clear, public declarations whenever Israel denies these committees entry or refuses to work with them in any manner.

International investigations must be conducted into the widespread violations that have been documented since Israel started its military attacks on the Gaza Strip, all evidence must be preserved, and all international institutions must unite in their efforts to end Israel’s impunity. Those who have committed crimes in the Strip, whether by issuing orders or carrying them out, must be held accountable and brought to justice.

Euro-Med Monitor warns that, should the Security Council be approached to pass a resolution requiring Israel to cease operations in the Rafah Governorate in the event that Israel does not abide by the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice, any use of the veto to prevent this resolution from being passed and enforced would mean that the objecting state—which has previously been the United States in multiple similar situations—will be complicit in the genocide committed by Israel throughout the Gaza Strip. This complicity in Israeli crimes includes crimes in Rafah Governorate, where the Court confirmed that Israel’s US-backed military operation poses a serious and additional threat to the Palestinian people’s right to be protected from the crime of genocide.

This article was originally published by Euro-Med Monitor.

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