South Africa asks International Court of Justice to order Israel to stop Gaza war

South Africa asks International Court of Justice to order Israel to stop Gaza war
South Africa’s Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola and the delegation requested emergency measures by South Africa, who asked the court to order Israel to stop its military actions in Gaza. (REUTERS)
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Updated 12 January 2024
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South Africa asks International Court of Justice to order Israel to stop Gaza war

South Africa asks International Court of Justice to order Israel to stop Gaza war
  • The United Nations’ top court is opening hearings into South Africa’s allegation that Israel’s war with Hamas amounts to genocide against Palestinians, a claim that Israel strongly denies
  • South Africa is initially asking the International Court of Justice to order an immediate suspension of Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip

THE HAGUE: South Africa asked the World Court on Thursday to order Israel to immediately suspend its military operation in Gaza, where it says Israel is committing genocide against Palestinian civilians. The demand came at the closing of the first day of hearings of a case brought by South Africa against Israel at the UN's top court. Israel will respond to the allegations on Friday.

Israel faced accusations at the World Court on Thursday of genocide in its war in Gaza, as the first residents returned to northern areas where Israeli forces have begun withdrawing, leaving behind scenes of total devastation.
Three months of Israeli bombardment has laid much of the narrow coastal enclave to waste, killing more than 23,000 people and driving nearly the entire population of 2.3 million Palestinians from their homes. An Israeli blockade has sharply restricted supplies of food, fuel and medicine, creating what the United Nations describes as a humanitarian catastrophe.
Israel says its only choice to defend itself is by eradicating Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, whose fighters sworn to Israel’s destruction stormed through Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and capturing 240 hostages. Israel blames Hamas for all harm to civilians for operating among them, which the fighters deny.
The case, brought by South Africa at the International Court of Justice in the Hague, accuses Israel of violating the 1948 genocide convention, enacted in the wake of the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust, which mandates all countries to ensure such crimes are never repeated.
Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy compared the lawsuit to a centuries-old antisemitic conspiracy theory falsely accusing Jews of killing babies for rituals: “The State of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel, as Pretoria gives political and legal cover to the Hamas rapist regime.”

South africa likens the gaza strip to a concentration camp in its world court case
A lawyer representing South Africa’s legal team has called the Gaza Strip “a concentration camp where genocide is taking place.”
John Dugard made the remarks while he was laying out a case in front of the International Court of Justice Thursday that South Africa has jurisdiction to take Israel to court over the genocide charge. He was repeating remarks made in 2023 by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The genocide charge strikes at the heart of Israel’s national identity and such comparisons of Israel’s war in Gaza to Nazi concentration camps on a world stage are likely to stir emotions in Israel, which sees itself as a bulwark of security for Jews after 6 million were killed in the Holocaust. International support for Israel’s creation in 1948 was deeply rooted in outrage over Nazi atrocities.
South Africa wants the court to rule that Israel is committing genocide in its war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Israel denies the charges, saying it is fighting a war of self-defense following Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack.

Lawyer for South Africa tells the world court that Palestinians have nowhere safe to go
A lawyer representing South Africa’s legal team says Palestinians under Israeli bombardment have nowhere safe to go.
In her address Thursday to the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Adila Hassim said Palestinians in Gaza “are killed in their homes in places where they seek shelter, in hospitals, in schools or in mosques, in churches.” She said Palestinians have been killed if they did not follow Israeli orders to evacuate, but also if they evacuated to Israeli-designated safe corridors.
“The level of killing is so extensive that those whose bodies are found buried in mass graves often unidentified,” Hassim said.
South Africa is trying to prove to the court that Israel is committing genocide in its war against Hamas in Gaza. Israel vehemently denies the allegation, saying it is battling militants in a war of self-defense after Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack.

Amer Salah, 23, sheltering in a UN school in the Southern Gaza Strip after fleeing his home, told Reuters Gazans hoped the case would at last bring to bear international pressure forcing Israel to halt the war.
“Israel has always been a state above the law. They did what they did in Gaza because they knew they couldn’t be punished as long as America was on their side. It is time to change that,” he said.
“We salute South Africa, and we want the war to be stopped and the court can do that.”
The preliminary hearings this week will consider whether the court should order Israel to stop fighting while it investigates the full merits of the case.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his country was driven to bring the case by “the ongoing slaughter of the people of Gaza,” motivated by South Africa’s own history of apartheid.
The United States said Israel must do more to reduce civilian casualties, but called the genocide allegations “unfounded.”
“In fact, it is those who are violently attacking Israel who continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews,” said State Department spokesperson Matt Miller.
Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters: “We urge the court to reject all pressure and take a decision to criminalize the Israeli occupation and stop the aggression on Gaza.”
“A failure to achieve justice, a failure in the role of the court, would mean that the occupation will continue its war of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

’Gaza will be rebuilt. We will rebury our dead’
Since the New Year, Israel has announced a new phase in the war, saying it will begin drawing down forces in the northern half of the Gaza Strip where its offensive began in October.
Even so, fighting has only intensified in southern areas, where Israel extended its ground campaign last month and where nearly all Gazans have sought shelter. The Israeli military said its main campaign was now in the biggest southern city, Khan Younis.
The relative quiet in the north has allowed a small number of residents to begin trickling back into obliterated cities, finding a moonscape often with no trace of where homes once stood.
Yousef Fares, a freelance journalist, filmed himself walking through a wasteland surrounded by scorched ruins that was once a part of Gaza City, home to nearly a million people. A few civilians were making their way through, some wobbling on bicycles over a track across the mud.
“All the houses you see are destroyed, completely or partially,” he said.
“We are now at the Tuffah old cemetery, which is over 100 years old. All those graves were exhumed, they were run over by the Israeli bulldozers and tanks. People are coming from various areas of Gaza City to search for the bodies of their sons.”
Abu Ayesh, who returned to a nearby part of Gaza City, told Reuters by phone that the destruction was “earthquake-like.” “I tell (Israeli Prime Mininster Benjamin) Netanyahu that Gaza will be rebuilt, we will build our homes and we will rebury our dead.”

Netanyahu: no intention to re-occupy Gaza
While Washington has backed Israel’s military campaign as justified by its right to self-defense, it has also called on its ally to scale the war back, do more to protect civilians, and maintain the hope of a future independent Palestinian state.
This week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited the region, meeting Israeli and Palestinian officials and leaders of neighboring Arab States, defending Israel’s campaign to eradicate Hamas but pushing for it to work with the Palestinian Authority (PA), which recognizes Israel.
Israel has been vague about its ultimate intentions but says it wants security control of Gaza indefinitely and won’t hand it to the PA, which exercises limited self rule in the Israeli occupied West Bank but was pushed out of Gaza in 2007 by Hamas.
Some far-right members of Netanyahu’s coalition government have openly called for Palestinians to leave Gaza and Israelis to settle there permanently. In a post on X, Netanyahu insisted this was not Israel’s aim.
“I want to make a few points absolutely clear: Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population,” he wrote. “Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law.”


Israel on board with Gaza peace deal, as US airdrops begin

Israel on board with Gaza peace deal, as US airdrops begin
Updated 03 March 2024
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Israel on board with Gaza peace deal, as US airdrops begin

Israel on board with Gaza peace deal, as US airdrops begin
  • International mediators have been working for weeks to broker a deal to pause fighting
  • Ball is in Hamas’ camp now, says senior US administration official on Gaza peace deal

WASHINGTON DC: Israel has broadly accepted a ceasefire deal with Hamas, a senior US official said Saturday, as the first American air drops of humanitarian aid were carried out over war-ravaged Gaza.
The framework agreement envisages a six-week cessation of hostilities, which could begin immediately if the Palestinian militant group signs off on the release of the most vulnerable hostages it holds, the official told reporters on a call.
“The Israelis have more or less accepted it,” the administration official said. “Right now, the ball is in the camp of Hamas.”
The announcement came hours after US military cargo planes began airdropping humanitarian aid into the besieged Gaza Strip.
The United Nations has warned of famine in Gaza, and more than 100 people were left dead earlier this week in a frenzied scramble for food from a truck convoy delivering aid, with Israeli forces opening fire on the crowd.
Saturday’s drop, which included 38,000 meals, was conducted “to provide essential relief to civilians affected by the ongoing conflict,” the US Central Command said.
A CENTCOM official told AFP that the meals were made up of US military rations that did not contain pork, the consumption of which is prohibited by Islam.
Negotiators from regional powers have been working around the clock to secure a Gaza truce by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in about one week.
“It will be a six-week ceasefire in Gaza starting today if Hamas agrees to release the defined category of vulnerable hostages... the sick, the wounded, elderly and women,” the administration official said.
Hamas militants took about 250 hostages during their unprecedented cross-border attack on Israel on October 7, 130 of whom remain in Gaza, including 31 that Israel says are presumed dead. It was unclear how many of the remaining hostages are deemed vulnerable.
The United States hopes any truce would create space for a more enduring peace. A Hamas delegation was expected to fly to Cairo on Saturday for talks on a truce, a source close to the group told AFP.
The administration official said a ceasefire would also allow a “significant surge” in humanitarian aid to Gaza, with airdrops not seen as a replacement for full-scale relief convoys.
“None of these — maritime corridors, airdrops — are an alternative to the fundamental need to move assistance through as many land crossings as possible. That’s the most efficient way to get aid in at scale,” a second US official told reporters.
The brutal October 7 attack by Hamas resulted in the deaths of around 1,160 people, according to official figures.
Israel responded with a relentless assault on Hamas-controlled Gaza that has taken a devastating toll on civilians trapped there, killing more than 30,000 people, according to the territory’s health ministry.
The amount of aid brought into Gaza by truck has plummeted during nearly five months of war, and Gazans are facing dire shortages of food, water and medicines.
Some foreign militaries have airdropped supplies to Gaza, sending long lines of aid pallets floating down into the war-torn territory on parachutes.
Jordan has been conducting many of the operations with the support of countries including Britain, France and the Netherlands, while Egypt sent several military planes on an air drop Thursday together with the United Arab Emirates.
Biden has pushed Israel to reduce civilian casualties and allow aid in, while at the same time he has maintained military assistance for the key US ally.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby described the airdrops as a “tough military operation” that required careful planning by the Pentagon for the safety of both Gazan civilians and US military personnel.


Palestinian Scout Association members volunteer to assist the displaced in war-ravaged Gaza

Palestinian Scout Association members volunteer to assist the displaced in war-ravaged Gaza
Updated 03 March 2024
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Palestinian Scout Association members volunteer to assist the displaced in war-ravaged Gaza

Palestinian Scout Association members volunteer to assist the displaced in war-ravaged Gaza
  • PSA stepped in and commissioned tens of its members as volunteers to support and assist people cope with life in the wild nature and makeshift shelters
  • “We as PSA members have a duty and obligation towards the people of Gaza. We are committed to supporting them as much as possible,” scout leader Sahar Abu-Zaid tells Arab News

BEIRUT: Over 150 scout members of the Palestinian Scout Association have been risking their own lives and volunteering to aid and support children, women and displaced families in war-ravaged Gaza.

Basic life necessities such as food, water, homes, electricity, healthcare, education and others have vanished since Israel launched its unprecedented war against Gaza following the Hamas Oct. 7 attacks.

As nearly 2 million Gazans were displaced and took refuge at shelters and makeshift tents not being able to eat, drink, wash, sleep and live normally, that was when the Palestinian Scout Association stepped in and commissioned tens of its members as volunteers to support and assist people cope with life in the wild nature and makeshift shelters.

One of those PSA members is scout group leader Sahar Jamal Abu-Zaid who along tens of her fellow scout-mates put their own lives at risk and rush to ‘help and support displaced people and traumatized kids because it is our duty and obligation to do so’.

Palestinian Scout Association leader Sahar Abu-Zaid during a group session activity with women of Gaza inside a classroom at one of the shelters. (Supplied)

Describing the situation from Gaza as ‘difficult, disastrous and extremely dangerous’ she told Arab News on Saturday: “We as PSA members have a duty and obligation towards the people of Gaza … our people! We are committed to supporting them as much as possible, despite the deep wounds and scars that the war has inflicted on them.”

A scout is an expert in wildlife and knows, according to Abu-Zaid, how to survive in outside nature while dealing with tents, wood, fireplaces, ropes and cooking.

“We have been helping the displaced people through applying our scouting skills by teaching them how to use ropes to make laundry lines, setting up tents for sleeping, making fireplaces to stay warm and building makeshift ovens to cook as well,” she elaborated.

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They have also been volunteering with Sharek Youth Forum (SYF), an NGO that operates in Gaza and the West Bank, through providing psychological support to disturbed children and troubled adults who were displaced from their homes and took refuge at different shelters.

She also revealed that scout volunteers are managing a major kitchen in cooperation with World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit NGO devoted to providing meals in the wake of natural disasters.

“Scout members are cooking huge meals, as they used to do in camps. We package the food meals and distribute them. We also have a bread project, whereby we bake bread on woodfire and distribute them along with the meals. So far we have been able to provide over 10,000 meals,” Abu-Zaid told the newspaper.

As part of the efforts of Qatar’s Education Above All Foundation and the United Nations Population Fund in responding to the Gaza crisis, scout members have also been volunteering in different support activities and programs provided to assist the refugees, especially children.

Palestinian Scout Association volunteers during a clean up campaign in a Gaza makeshift camp for refugees. (Supplied)

There are more than 150 PSA members volunteering, working nonstop and exerting ‘extraordinarily tremendous efforts’ [amid a life-threatening and hazardous situation] to assist refugees, the displaced, women, children and elderlies across all parts of Gaza, she said.

The 31-year-old accounting graduate said she and all her fellow scout-mates participate in a campaign titled ‘Participate with your People’ that was launched by SYF and aims at organising individual and group activities for children and supporting women and parents in how to identify and manage children’s trauma symptoms.

Driven by the curiosity to learn about scouting life and the aim to develop new life-skills and enjoying wildlife and outside activities, Abu-Zaid joined PSA in 2017 at the age of 25.

“Today, we are living minute by minute, and we are at risk of getting killed by an Israeli airstrike at any moment. Yet, we have to keep moving forward … we are committed to drawing smiles on the faces of traumatized children by involving them in different fun activities and games that we learnt at scouts. We are also involving grownups, mainly women, in group discussions and other activities that could help them learn how to survive amid this warzone,” she said.

alestinian Scout Association volunteers teaching refugees how to build up laundry lines at a makeshift camp in Gaza. (Supplied)

An accounting graduate, Abu-Zaid called on for an immediate ceasefire saying: “It is only an immediate ceasefire that would save our lives. We are surrounded by nonstop massacres … the latest was that of Al-Rasheed streets when 10s were killed by Israeli fire while waiting to collect aid materials and food support. People die every minute and this has got to stop instantly with an instant ceasefire.”  

In a news report published in the Guardian earlier this week, Mai al-Afifi, a volunteer herself displaced from Gaza City to Deir al-Balah, was quoted as saying: “We do see the games and singing make a difference … for just a little while, the children can relieve their psychological stress.”

Nader al-Raqab, PSA’s leader in Khan Younis, was apprehended by Israelis a few weeks back and has not been heard from since.


Houthi leader says UK’s Sunak has chance to recover Rubymar by letting aid into Gaza

This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
Updated 03 March 2024
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Houthi leader says UK’s Sunak has chance to recover Rubymar by letting aid into Gaza

This satellite image taken by Maxar Technologies shows the Belize-flagged ship Rubymar in the Red Sea on Friday, March 1, 2024.
  • The Houthis insist their attacks will continue until Israel stops its combat operations in the Gaza Strip, which have enraged the wider Arab world and seen the Houthis gain international recognition

CAIRO: A senior Houthi leader said on Saturday he held British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and his government responsible for the sinking of the UK-owned Rubymar.
Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi, head of Yemen’s Houthi supreme revolutionary committee, also said on X: “Sunak has a chance to recover the Rubymar by allowing aid trucks into Gaza.”
Yemen’s internationally recognized government said earlier on Saturday that the Rubymar, which was attacked by Houthi militants last month, had sunk in the Red Sea and warned of an “environmental catastrophe” from the ship’s cargo of fertilizer.

 


Tunisian authorities investigate a fire at a synagogue, question a suspect in custody

Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
Updated 03 March 2024
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Tunisian authorities investigate a fire at a synagogue, question a suspect in custody

Tunisian forces secure an area near the Ghriba synagogue following a shootout on the resort island of Djerba on May 10, 2023.
  • In May, five people were killed in a shooting attack on the historic Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba

TUNIS, Tunisia: A man believed to have started a fire in a garden at a synagogue in the east of Tunisia is in custody and under investigation for targeting a Jewish house of worship, officials said Saturday.
Hichem ben Ayad, the public prosecutor in the eastern port city of Sfax, told The Associated Press that a garden in the courtyard of the city’s synagogue was set on fire last Sunday. An investigation was opened and a suspect was arrested, he said.
The suspect is a public official his late 40s, ben Ayad said. He is being questioned to establish if the fire — which the prosecutor said was “a criminal act” — was premediated and deliberately targeted the Jewish house of worship.
There were no casualties in the fire that was extinguished the same day, ben Ayad said. He added that the blaze did not cause significant damage to the building. The synagogue appeared to be empty at the time, he said.
In May, five people were killed in a shooting attack on the historic Ghriba synagogue on Tunisia’s island of Djerba. Authorities said a Tunisian national guardsman was behind the attack.
The assailant intentionally targeted the ancient synagogue on the Mediterranean island in a premeditated act, Tunisian officials said.

 


Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4

Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4
Updated 03 March 2024
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Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4

Kuwait calls on voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4
  • Last month, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree to dissolve parliament

KUWAIT CITY: Kuwait called on Saturday for voters to elect members of the national assembly on April 4, Kuwait News Agency said.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Amer Al-Ajmi said the Kuwaiti Cabinet had approved a draft emiri decree inviting voters to elect the National Assembly and added that registration of candidates would begin on March 4.

Last month, Kuwait’s Emir Sheikh Meshal Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah issued a decree to dissolve the parliament.

The decree was based on the national assembly’s “violation of the constitutional principles,” KUNA added.

The assembly was elected in June 2023 following a proposal by the prime minister that was approved by the cabinet.