Israel faces genocide charges at the International Court of Justice for the first time - while expanding the deployment of its army in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis.
A hearing began before the highest UN court in The Hague on the lawsuit in which South Africa accuses Israel of systematically committing genocidal acts against the Palestinians in the Gaza war. In an urgent procedure, South Africa is demanding immediate legal protection for the Palestinians. Accordingly, the judges should order an end to military actions.
According to its own statements, the Israeli army is expanding its operations above and below ground in Khan Yunis in the south of the Gaza Strip, where it believes the leadership around the regional Hamas chief Jihia al-Sinwar is located. So far, more than 300 tunnel entrances and more than 100 tunnels have been destroyed in the Chan Yunis area alone, the military said. Terrorists were also killed.
Netanyahu: “In accordance with international law”
Israel will present its position in the proceedings before the International Court of Justice on Friday. Shortly before the hearing began, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again rejected all allegations: "Israel is fighting against Hamas terrorists, not against the Palestinian people, and we are doing so in full accordance with international law."
The UN Court of Justice is supposed to decide on conflicts between states. A decision, initially only on the urgent application to end the military operation, is expected in the next few weeks. Proceedings on the main issue, the genocide allegation, can take years.
In addition to Israel, the USA, Great Britain and the federal government also see no basis for South Africa's lawsuit. Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck (Greens) said during a visit to Israel that he had every empathy for people who were suffering in the Gaza Strip and who were losing families and children "as a result of this terrible conflict."
Israel knows that things cannot continue like this, said Habeck, referring to the actions of the armed forces. "But genocide is something different, it is the deliberate desire to wipe out ethnic groups or religious communities, the deliberate extinction." During his visit, Habeck also demanded that the Israeli government do more to protect civilians in the Gaza Strip.
As a result of Israeli military operations, 23,469 people have been killed since the start of the war, according to the latest figures from the Hamas-controlled health authority. The numbers cannot currently be independently verified. Israel invokes its right to self-defense after the bloody attacks by the terrorist organization Hamas and other extremists on October 7, 2023. Around 1,200 people were killed and around 250 were kidnapped from Israel, around half of whom have been released so far.
Army: Sinwar suspected in tunnel
The Hamas leadership around Jihia al-Sinwar is suspected in the tunnel network in the area of Khan Yunis. Israeli media recently reported that Israel knew where Al-Sinwar was hiding. So far, there have been no attacks because the Hamas leader surrounded himself with hostages who served as human shields. The information could not be independently verified.
Hezbollah: Only demonstrated a "tiny portion" of our capabilities
Hezbollah in Lebanon says it has shown only a fraction of its capabilities since the outbreak of the Gaza war and the fighting on the border with Israel. Executive Council Vice Chairman Ali Damusch said in a widely circulated statement on Telegram: "The resistance has used only a tiny part of its capabilities - namely weapons, missiles and expertise - in its operations." He added: "However, if the enemy forces war on us, we will show him all our capabilities and our power."
Damusch made the comments shortly before the arrival of US envoy and mediator Amos Hochstein in the Lebanese capital Beirut. Amos is said to have traveled to Lebanon to negotiate a possible ceasefire on the Israeli-Lebanese border, government sources said.
Egypt and USA want to continue “intensive consultation” on the Gaza war
According to the Egyptian President's Office, the governments of Egypt and the USA want to continue to discuss "intensively" ways to ease tensions in the Gaza war. After President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Cairo, it was said that both had agreed to work towards calming the situation. A forced expulsion of the Palestinians should be completely rejected, the message from Cairo continued.
In light of the Middle East war, Blinken has been traveling in the region again for a week, with stops in several Gulf countries, Jordan and Israel, among others.
IfW: Attacks in the Red Sea cause cargo volumes there to collapse
The attacks on merchant ships in the Red Sea are leaving a clear mark on global container traffic at sea. “The amount of containers transported there fell by over half and is currently almost 70 percent below the volume actually expected,” reported the Kiel Institute for Economic Research (IfW).
The rerouting of ships around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa will result in the time for transporting goods between Asian production centers and European consumers being significantly extended by up to 20 days, said trade policy expert Julian Hinz. However, Hinz does not expect any consequences for consumer prices in Europe.
Since the outbreak of the Gaza war, the Iranian-backed Houthi rebels have repeatedly attacked ships with alleged Israeli connections in the Red Sea. Large shipping companies are increasingly avoiding the route. Around ten percent of world trade passes through the Red Sea. The UN Security Council in New York issued a resolution on Wednesday (local time) calling for an "immediate cessation" of attacks by Houthi rebels on merchant ships in the Red Sea. Eleven countries voted in favor - Russia, China, Algeria and Mozambique abstained.