UN chief warns that Israel’s rejection of a two-state solution threatens global peace

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP)
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 2024. (AP)
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Updated 24 January 2024
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UN chief warns that Israel’s rejection of a two-state solution threatens global peace

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations headquarters.
  • “The entire population of Gaza is enduring destruction at a scale and speed without parallel in recent history,” Guterres told the UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS: The UN chief warned Israel on Tuesday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ‘s rejection of a two-state solution will indefinitely prolong a conflict that is threatening global peace and emboldening extremists everywhere.
In his toughest language yet on the Israeli-Hamas war, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told a ministerial meeting of the UN Security Council that “the right of the Palestinian people to build their own fully independent state must be recognized by all, and a refusal to accept the two-state solution by any party must be firmly rejected.”
The alternative of a one-state solution “with such a large number of Palestinians inside without any real sense of freedom, rights and dignity … will be inconceivable,” he said.
Guterres also warned that the risks of regional escalation of the conflict “are now becoming a reality,” pointing to Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Pakistan. He urged all parties “to step back from the brink and to consider the horrendous costs” of a wider war.
Netanyahu’s rejection of a Palestinian state in any postwar scenario opened a wide rift with Israel’s closest ally, the US, which says the war must lead to negotiations for a two-state solution where Israel and the Palestinians can live side-by-side in peace. That goal is supported by countries around the world, as ministers and ambassadors reiterated Tuesday.
Saudi Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Waleed Elkhereiji told the council: “How can this tragedy continue with no serious action to bring an end to it and with no measures to halt the carnage and collective punishment against defenseless civilians in Gaza.”
Elkhereiji told the council that a lasting solution was the only way to ensure peace and regional stability.
“Any measure for regional security or to prevent threats cannot replace a resolution of the root causes the crisis in Palestine and finding a lasting solution,” he said. “You must act to ensure an immediate ceasefire and to restore peace to alleviate suffering and to allow the Palestinian people to safeguard their dignity and their legitimate rights.”

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“This peace which we so desire must go via a credible, irreversible path toward creating an independent Palestine state which safeguards the dignity of the Palestinian people, allowing for their coexistence and common security as well as for stability and development for all.”
The health ministry said that at least 25,000 civilians have been killed, mostly children and women, as Israel continues to pound the densely populated Gaza Strip in its campaign to eradicate Hamas, after the group attacked settlements near the enclave killing 1,200.
“We categorically reject violations of international humanitarian law by any parties, in any circumstances. We condemn targeting of civilians and call upon this Council to adopt firm position to oblige Israel to respect international law and bring an end to this suffering.”
He also warned of the dangers of military escalation in the region and its impact of security and stability.
“Military operations in the Red Sea and the Yemeni republic are a source of concern. The necessary measure therefore must be taken to contain incidences and repercussions of this crisis, which is affecting neighboring countries and international peace and security.”

United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the UN, Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, told the council: “We need an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza. The overwhelming majority of the international community has called for this, repeatedly. It is time for the minority view to stop obstructing it from happening.”

She added: “The humanitarian imperative at this moment must be our top priority, in addition to the ceasefire, so that life-saving aid can enter at scale, and hostages can be allowed out and returned to their families safely.”

Pakistan said Israel’s actions in Gaza were genocidal and called for greater recognition of Palestine.

“It is time to admit Palestine as a full member of the United Nations,” said. Munir Akram, Pakistan’s permanent representative to the UN.

Uzra Zeya, the State Department’s under secretary for civilian security, democracy and human rights, told the council, “A key component of US diplomacy is to pursue a pathway both to a Palestinian state and normalization and integration between Israel and other regional states.”
“The goal is a future where Gaza is never again used as a platform for terror, and a future where Palestinians have a state of their own,” she said, reiterating the Biden administration’s call on Israel to do more to protect Palestinian civilians.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov countered that American diplomacy “oscillates between vetoing resolutions about the ceasefire and at the same time calling for a reduction in the intensity of hostilities in Gaza.”
“Without a doubt this serves as carte blanche for the ongoing collective punishment of Palestinians,” Lavrov told the council.
Secretary-general Guterres repeated his longstanding call for a humanitarian ceasefire — an appeal with overwhelming global support.
But Israel’s UN Ambassador Gilad Erdan again rejected a ceasefire, saying Hamas, which carried out a brutal attack on southern Israel on Oct. 7, is committed to attacking again and destroying Israel, and a halt to fighting will only allow the militants “to regroup and rearm.”
He urged the Security Council to “eliminate the root” of the conflict, which he said was Iran.
Erdan strongly criticized the presence of Iran’s foreign minister at the council meeting, saying the country provides weapons to Hamas, to Hezbollah fighters in Lebanon and Houthi militants in Yemen, “and soon these acts will be carried out under a nuclear umbrella” and “Iran’s terror will reach all of you.”
Iran has long denied seeking nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear program is entirely for peaceful purposes. But the UN nuclear watchdog has warned that Iran has enough enriched uranium for nuclear bombs if it chose to build them.
Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian didn’t mention its nuclear program, but he warned Israel that it would not destroy Hamas, its stated goal.
“The killing of civilians in Gaza and the West Bank cannot continue on to the so-called total destruction of Hamas, because that time will never come,” he said. “Stopping the genocide in Gaza is the main key to security in the region.”
Riyad Al-Maliki, the Palestinian foreign minister, said Israel is carrying out “the most savage bombing campaign” since World War II, which is leading to famine and the massive displacement of civilians. “This is an assault of atrocities,” which has destroyed countless innocent lives, he said.
Al-Maliki said Israel doesn’t see the Palestinians as a people and a “political reality to coexist with, but as a demographic threat to get rid of through death, displacement or subjugation.” He said those are the choices Israel has offered Palestinians, calling them tantamount to “genocide, ethnic cleansing or apartheid.”
Al-Maliki said there are only two future paths: One starts with Palestinian freedom and leads to Mideast peace and security, and the other denies freedom and “dooms our region to further bloodshed and endless conflict.”
France’s new foreign minister, Stéphane Séjourné, whose country holds the council presidency this month, presided at the meeting and warned that “a regional conflagration is real.”
He said the world should unite and deliver different messages to the warring parties.
Israel must be told that “there must be a Palestinian state” and that violence against Palestinians, including by West Bank settlers, must end, Séjourné said. And the Palestinians must be told that “There can be no ambiguity regarding Israel’s right to live in peace and security, and to exercise its right to self-defense against terrorism.”
But Turkiye’s Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan said the argument that the war is about providing security for Israel “is far from being convincing.” He said supporters of this view never talk about the Palestinians’ right to security and self-defense.
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi said the “ideology of hate embraced openly by Israeli ministers is normalizing the mass murder of Palestinians” and urged the council to stop it with a binding resolution.
Israel must be held accountable for war crimes and for blocking a Palestinian state, Safadi said. “The future of the region cannot be taken hostage to the political ambitions and the radical agendas of Israeli extremists who described the Palestinians as human animals, unworthy of life, who enable settler terrorism against Palestinian people.”


El-Sisi in Beijing to attend China-Arab cooperation forum

El-Sisi in Beijing to attend China-Arab cooperation forum
Updated 9 sec ago
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El-Sisi in Beijing to attend China-Arab cooperation forum

El-Sisi in Beijing to attend China-Arab cooperation forum
  • The visit coincides with the 10th anniversary of relations between Egypt and China
  • El-Sisi is also scheduled to meet the heads of several major Chinese companies

CAIRO: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi arrived in Beijing on Tuesday on a state visit to China and to attend the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum after an invitation from President Xi Jinping.
El-Sisi will hold talks with Xi and senior Chinese officials focusing on ways to forge closer relations and unlock broader prospects for cooperation in several fields.
The visit coincides with the 10th anniversary of relations between Egypt and China being raised to the level of a comprehensive strategic partnership.
Ahmed Fahmy, spokesman for Egypt’s presidency, said the talks will also focus on regional and international issues of common interest, primarily the war in Gaza and ways to restore stability in the region and achieve the aspirations of its peoples for peace, security, and development.
El-Sisi is also scheduled to meet the heads of several major Chinese companies.
The meetings are expected to explore opportunities to attract more investment to Egypt in light of the state’s orientation toward enhancing mechanisms for the localization of industry and technology transfer.
Egypt is eager to collaborate closely with the private sector and encourage foreign direct investment.
El-Sisi will attend a meeting of the China-Arab States Cooperation Forum, to be held on May 30, with the participation of the Chinese president and a number of Arab leaders.
The forum will discuss various aspects of China-Arab relations and ways to further advance them.
Egypt’s government said the forum is a framework for dialogue and cooperation between Arab states and China. Its founding document was signed in September 2004 at the headquarters of the Arab League in Cairo following a visit by the Chinese president.


Mossad chief staged decade-long influence, intimidation campaign against ICC prosecutor

Mossad chief staged decade-long influence, intimidation campaign against ICC prosecutor
Updated 17 min 24 sec ago
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Mossad chief staged decade-long influence, intimidation campaign against ICC prosecutor

Mossad chief staged decade-long influence, intimidation campaign against ICC prosecutor
  • Yossi Cohen sought to steer court away from investigating Israeli crimes in Occupied Territories
  • ‘Despicable tactics’ used including ‘keen interest’ in prosecutor’s family, source tells The Guardian

LONDON: A former chief of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency staged a years-long campaign of intimidation against a former International Criminal Court prosecutor in an attempt to sway war crimes investigations, The Guardian reported on Tuesday.
Fatou Bensouda, the former ICC prosecutor, became a target of Yossi Cohen in the years leading up to her opening a formal investigation into alleged war crimes in the Occupied Territories.
Launched in 2021, the investigation ended with the seeking of an arrest warrant for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by Bensouda’s successor Karim Khan.
Israel has long feared the results of the investigation, including the threat of prosecution against its military personnel, which was used as justification for Cohen’s decade-long campaign to undermine the court.
As Mossad director, Cohen, a close ally of Netanyahu at the time, was acting as the prime minister’s “unofficial messenger,” a source told The Guardian.
In total, four sources told the newspaper that Bensouda had briefed top ICC officials about Cohen’s campaign, which one official described as “stalking” and involving intimidation.
On several occasions, Cohen had “put pressure” on Bensouda to avoid opening the Palestine case at the ICC.
“You should help us and let us take care of you. You don’t want to be getting into things that could compromise your security or that of your family,” Cohen told her, according to the account of one ICC official to The Guardian.
As part of the targeted campaign against Bensouda, Cohen used “despicable tactics,” including taking a “keen interest” in her family, one source said.
Mossad obtained secret recording transcripts as well as photographs of Bensouda’s husband, which Cohen personally showed her.
His campaign was helped by the former president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Joseph Kabila, in an unlikely alliance that proved crucial to Cohen.
It is unclear why Kabila aided him, but his status as the leader of a country facing ICC investigation helped him set up a “chance” meeting between Bensouda and Cohen.
The ICC prosecutor and Cohen appear to have first met at the Munich Security Conference in 2017, two years after Bensouda opened a preliminary investigation into the Palestinian file.
A year later, Cohen “ambushed” her in a New York City hotel as she was due to meet Kabila to discuss the situation in his country, The Guardian reported. Cohen’s “surprise” appearance was said to have “alarmed” ICC officials at the time.
He had earlier made a series of trips to the DRC, relating to what was described by Israeli broadcaster Kan as an “extremely controversial plan.”
Following the New York meeting, Cohen repeatedly phoned Bensouda to request further talks in an attempt to “build a relationship” and “play good cop,” sources told The Guardian.
But the influence campaign failed when in 2019, Bensouda announced that she had grounds to open a full criminal investigation into war crimes allegations in the Occupied Territories.
She first requested a ruling from the pre-trial chamber of the ICC, confirming the court’s jurisdiction over Palestine.
At this stage, Cohen stepped up his campaign against Bensouda into “threats and manipulation,” fearing the results of an official investigation being launched.
Senior ICC officials had suspicions that Israel had cultivated sources within the court’s office of the prosecutor.
In 2021, the ICC’s pre-trial chamber confirmed that the court had jurisdiction over the Occupied Territories. A month later, Bensouda formally launched the criminal investigation.
She said at the time: “In the end, our central concern must be for the victims of crimes, both Palestinian and Israeli, arising from the long cycle of violence and insecurity that has caused deep suffering and despair on all sides.”
Her successor, Khan, has vowed to prosecute “attempts to impede, intimidate or improperly influence” ICC officials after a warrant for Netanyahu’s arrest was sought.
The recent results of the investigation first launched by Bensouda represent a heavy blow to Israel’s international standing, and mark a failure of Cohen’s decade-long campaign to influence the court.
“The fact they chose the head of Mossad to be the prime minister’s unofficial messenger to (Bensouda) was to intimidate, by definition,” one source told The Guardian.
In response to questioning by the newspaper, a spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister’s office said: “The questions forwarded to us are replete with many false and unfounded allegations meant to hurt the state of Israel.”
Khan’s move last week to seek arrest warrants against Netanyahu marked the first time the ICC has taken action against leaders of a country closely allied with the US and Europe.
Netanyahu’s alleged crimes pertain to the war in Gaza, and include directing attacks on civilians and using starvation as a method of warfare.


Lebanon deputy looks to push Syria on refugee return

Lebanon deputy looks to push Syria on refugee return
Updated 36 min 39 sec ago
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Lebanon deputy looks to push Syria on refugee return

Lebanon deputy looks to push Syria on refugee return
  • Lebanese deputy leader Saadeh Al-Shami will head the committee
  • Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that for the first time Lebanon has a “clear and specific action plan” on the Syrian refugee issue

BEIRUT: Lebanon has stepped up its push to have Syrian refugees returned to their homeland with the announcement of a Cabinet committee to negotiate directly with the Syrian government on the issue.
Lebanese deputy leader Saadeh Al-Shami will head the committee, which was set up during a Cabinet session on Tuesday with their aim of speeding up the repatriation process.
Speaking following a conference in Brussels on Monday on the future of Syria and the region, Prime Minister Najib Mikati said that for the first time Lebanon has a “clear and specific action plan” on the Syrian refugee issue.
Mikati said that Foreign Minister Abdullah Bou Habib, who represented Lebanon at the Brussels forum, had called for safe areas to be found in Syria so the return process could get underway as soon as possible.
Arab ministers from countries hosting Syrian refugees, including Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt, were urged to agree on a united plan to communicate with the Syrian government and “support early recovery in Syria.”
“During the conference, Lebanon emphasized the need for support and aid to encourage the Syrians to return to their country,” Mikati said.
In his speech, Bou Habib highlighted Lebanon’s continued cooperation, not confrontation, with international organizations affiliated with the UN.
International donors, led by the EU, pledged at the end of the conference to provide $5.4 billion to Syrians inside Syria and refugees in the region, in addition to more than $2.5 billion in soft loans to host countries.
Lebanon estimates there are at least 2 million Syrian refugees in the country, including those registered with UNHCR, workers, legal residents, and those who entered illegally.
Hostility toward Syrian refugees in Lebanon worsened after the abduction and murder of Pascal Suleiman, a local official in the Lebanese Forces Party.
Over the past two months, hate speech against Syrian refugees has escalated and work restrictions have been placed on them to hasten their return.
Lebanon is pushing ahead with plans to repatriate Syrians who entered the country illegally, and has organized voluntary return trips, but participation remains low, with only 225 people joining a convoy two weeks ago.
At the opening of the Brussels conference, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell rejected any discussion of refugees’ return to Syria.
“We consider that there is no safe, voluntary, and dignified return for refugees to Syria at present,” he said.
“Voluntary return must be voluntary; refugees should not be coerced. The situation in Syria today is more perilous than a year ago, humanitarian needs have never been greater, and efforts toward a political solution remain deadlocked.”
Meanwhile, Lebanese security forces are continuing to evict Syrian families living in illegal settlements across towns and villages in Mount Lebanon and the north as part of a crackdown.
On Tuesday, about 1,000 Syrians in Koubba in the Batroun region of northern Lebanon were evicted on orders from Ramzi Nohra, the North Lebanon governor.
Ahead of the Brussels conference, Amnesty International urged those attending to “ensure that any funds pledged to support Syrian refugees in Lebanon do not contribute to human rights violations, including forced deportation to Syria.”
The rights group quoted refugees in Lebanon saying they “live in fear, avoid leaving their homes, going to work, or sending their children to school.”
Dozens of municipalities have imposed curfews on Syrian refugees, and shuttered scores of small businesses and shops employing or run by Syrians nationwide.
Lebanon’s General Directorate of General Security has suspended procedures for granting or renewing residency permits through lease contracts, Lebanese sponsorship, or financial guarantees. It has also cautioned people against employing, hosting, or providing accommodation to undocumented Syrian refugees.


Jordanian minister receives American delegation in bid to boost foreign investment

Jordanian minister receives American delegation in bid to boost foreign investment
Updated 28 May 2024
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Jordanian minister receives American delegation in bid to boost foreign investment

Jordanian minister receives American delegation in bid to boost foreign investment
  • Saqqaf highlighted Jordan’s extensive network of trade agreements with numerous economic blocs

AMMAN: Jordan’s Minister of Investment Kholoud Saqqaf on Tuesday welcomed a high-level delegation of executive directors and representatives from prominent American companies, who are visiting Jordan to explore investment opportunities, Jordan News Agency reported.

During the meeting, Saqqaf highlighted Jordan’s extensive network of trade agreements with numerous economic blocs, which have enabled Jordanian exports to reach non-traditional markets and more than 1.5 billion consumers worldwide.

The visit of the US delegation, organized in coordination with the New York-based Business Council for International Understanding, will include meetings with various Jordanian ministries and public and private sector institutions.

The BCIU is a non-partisan organization comprising 200 major US companies, which works to expand international trade, provide essential services to facilitate global growth opportunities, and foster mutually beneficial relationships between business and government leaders worldwide.

Saqqaf emphasized the importance of strengthening economic and investment relations between Jordan and the US, noting that the free trade agreement between the two countries had significantly increased trade volume and encouraged new investments in Jordan.

She outlined key reforms undertaken by Jordan, including the approval of the investment environment law, the initiation of public-private partnership projects, and the launch of an investment promotion strategy targeting various countries, with a particular focus on the American market.

Saqqaf also highlighted improvements in Jordan’s national economy, citing satisfactory economic growth rates, low inflation compared with regional and global levels, and robust foreign currency reserves.

She pointed to Moody’s recent upgrade of Jordan’s credit rating from B1 to BA3, with a stable outlook, as further evidence of Jordan’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

Encouraging the American businesses to invest in Jordan, Saqqaf assured the delegation of the country’s supportive environment for their ventures. She highlighted various investment opportunities available through the Invest in Jordan platform (invest.jo) and reaffirmed Jordan’s openness to business and investment.

Representatives from the BCIU praised Jordan’s stable and secure environment, as well as the reforms aimed at improving the business landscape.

They expressed their commitment to promoting Jordan’s investment environment to their members and other American companies.
 


Israeli tanks hit evacuation zone west of Rafah, 21 dead, Gaza health officials say

Israeli tanks hit evacuation zone west of Rafah, 21 dead, Gaza health officials say
Updated 28 May 2024
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Israeli tanks hit evacuation zone west of Rafah, 21 dead, Gaza health officials say

Israeli tanks hit evacuation zone west of Rafah, 21 dead, Gaza health officials say
  • It came two days after an Israeli airstrike on another camp stirred global condemnation
  • The attack site is a coastal area that Israel had advised civilians in Rafah to move to for safety

CAIRO: Israeli strikes on a tent camp in an evacuation area west of Rafah killed at least 21 on Tuesday, Gaza health authorities said, and tanks advanced to the center of the southern Gaza city for the first time after a night of heavy bombardment.
Two days after an Israeli airstrike on another camp stirred global condemnation, Gaza emergency services said four tank shells hit a cluster of tents in Al-Mawasi, a coastal area that Israel had advised civilians in Rafah to move to for safety.
At least 12 of the dead were women, according to medical officials in the Hamas-run Palestinian enclave. An Israeli military spokesperson said: “As of this time, we are not aware of this incident.”
In central Rafah, tanks and armored vehicles mounted with machine guns were spotted near Al-Awda mosque, witnesses told Reuters. The Israeli military said its forces continued to operate in the Rafah area, without commenting on reported advances into the city center.
International unease over Israel’s three-week-old Rafah offensive has turned to outrage after an attack on Sunday set off a blaze in a tent camp in a western district of the city, killing at least 45 people. Israel said it had targeted Hamas commanders and had not intended to cause civilian casualties.
Global leaders voiced horror at the fire in a designated “humanitarian zone” of Rafah where families uprooted by fighting elsewhere had sought shelter, and urged the implementation of a World Court order last week for a halt to Israel’s assault.
Tuesday’s attack occurred in an area designated by Israel as an expanded humanitarian zone, to which it had called on civilians in Rafah to evacuate for their own safety when it launched its incursion in early May.
In a diplomatic move purportedly aimed at reining in the violence, Spain, Ireland and Norway were to officially recognize a Palestinian state on Tuesday.
The three countries have said they hope their decision will accelerate efforts toward securing a ceasefire in Israel’s war against Hamas militants, now in its eighth month, that has reduced much of the densely populated territory to rubble.
Residents said Rafah’s Tel Al-Sultan neighborhood, the scene of Sunday’s night-time strike in which tents and shelters were set ablaze as families settled down to sleep, was still being bombarded.
“Tank shells are falling everywhere in Tel Al-Sultan. Many families have fled their houses in western Rafah under fire throughout the night,” one resident told Reuters via a chat app.
Around one million people — many repeatedly displaced by shifting waves of the war — have fled the Israeli offensive in Rafah since early May, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) reported on Tuesday.
A video obtained by Reuters showed families on the move again, carrying their belongings through Rafah’s shattered streets, their weary children trailing behind them.
“There are a lot of attacks, smoke and dust. It is death from God...The (Israelis) are hitting everywhere. We’re tired,” said Moayad Fusaifas, pushing along belongings on two bicycles.

Israel says it’s in combat near Egypt border

Since Israel launched its incursion by seizing control of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt three weeks ago, tanks had probed around the outskirts and entered some eastern districts but had not yet rumbled into the city in full force.
In recent days, Israeli tanks have thrust toward western neighborhoods and taken up positions on the Zurub hilltop in western Rafah. On Tuesday, witnesses reported gunbattles between Israeli troops and Hamas-led fighters in the Zurub area.
Witnesses in central Rafah said the Israeli military appeared to have brought in remote-operated armored vehicles and there was no immediate sign of personnel in or around them. An Israeli military spokesperson had no immediate comment.
The Israeli military said it operated overnight along the Philadelphi Corridor that separates Gaza from Egypt “based on intelligence indicating the presence of terror targets.”
Israeli troops were engaged in close-quarter combat and were locating tunnel shafts, weapons and militant infrastructure, it said in a statement.
Israel has kept up attacks despite the ruling by the International Court of Justice on Friday ordering it to stop given a high risk of civilian casualties. Israel has argued that the top UN court’s decision had left it some scope for military action there.
The ICJ also reiterated calls for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages held in Gaza by Hamas.
More than 36,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s offensive, Gaza’s health ministry says. Israel launched its air and ground war after Hamas-led militants attacked southern Israeli communities on Oct. 7, killing around 1,200 people and seizing more than 250 hostages, according to Israeli tallies.
Israel says it wants to root out Hamas fighters holed up in Rafah and rescue hostages it says are being held in the area.
In Jabalia in the northern Gaza Strip, one of the largest of the enclave’s eight historic refugee camps, Israeli forces have been engaged in fierce fighting with Hamas and Islamic Jihad fighters, residents said.
In some residential districts from which Israeli forces have retreated, civil emergency teams said they were recovering bodies from the ruins.