Israel continues 98-day war in Gaza despite genocide accusations - as it happened

Ahram Online , Friday 12 Jan 2024

The Israeli war on the Gaza Strip continues for the 98th consecutive day, with intense airstrikes on the central and southern besieged strip. Under fire at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Israel responds to accusations of genocide in Gaza, claiming that some actions of Israeli soldiers do not reflect government policies, while the UN Human Rights Commission asserts that Israel's violation of international legal obligations may lead to accountability for war crimes.

Palestinians salvage their belongings after an Israeli strike in Kahan Younis, Gaza Strip, Friday, Jan. 12, 2024. AP

19:20 The United Nations called for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, saying it is "more urgent than ever" as war approaches the 100-day mark on Sunday.

The UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) Spokesperson Liz Throssell highlighted the need to alleviate the severe suffering and facilitate aid delivery to the population in Gaza, facing alarming levels of hunger and disease.

She reiterated the need for OHCHR staff to have access to all parts of the occupied Palestinian territory to investigate human rights violations by all parties.

“Israel exposes itself to responsibility for war crimes because of the conduct of its operation," she said.

She underlined Israel’s recurring failures to uphold the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law, namely distinction, proportionality, and precautions in carrying out attacks.

18:40 Egypt expressed deep concern over the escalating military operations in the Red Sea, following the US and UK airstrikes targeting various areas in Yemen.

"Egypt urges for international and regional efforts to collaboratively reduce tension and instability in the region, and to secure navigation in the Red Sea," read a statement by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Cairo perceives "the dangerous and rapid developments" in the southern Red Sea and Yemen as a "clear indication of the previously warned risks of an expanding conflict in the region, exacerbated by the ongoing Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip."

Egypt highlights, in the statement, the necessity of a comprehensive ceasefire and end of the ongoing Israeli war against Palestinian civilians to prevent further destabilization, conflicts, and threats to international peace and security in the region.

18:35 The United States does not seek conflict with Iran despite carrying out strikes on Yemen's Houthis to stop their attacks on Red Sea shipping, the White House said on Friday.

"We're not looking for conflict with Iran. We're not looking to escalate and there's no reason for it to escalate beyond what happened over the last few days," National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby told MSNBC.

"That said ... we know that Iran supports the Houthis. We know that they're supplying them with the missiles and the drones, the same things they've used to attack shipping," he said.

"And we have made it very clear Iran should stop that support."

18:30 Hundreds of thousands of people massed for a major demonstration in Yemen's capital Sanaa to protest against the US and UK attacks.

Crowds under a sea of Yemeni and Palestinian flags chanted "Death to America, death to Israel," as they massed in the giant Sanaa square in the historic city's centre.

"If America and its allies decide to declare open war on us, we're ready for it and we won't have any choice but to bring victory or fall as martyrs," Abdel-Azim Ali, one of the protesters, told AFP.

"We're not scared of the American or British airforces. We've been bombed for nine years and another attack is nothing new for us," said Abdallah Hassan, who was also in the crowd.

18:05 Israel's Ambassador to the United Nations Gilad Erdan criticized the UN and the ICJ in The Hague, accusing them of being complicit with terrorist organizations and misusing the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide against Israel.

Erdan expressed his dismay at the use of the convention "against the Jewish state."

Israel has consistently considered itself above the law, leveraging accusations of anti-Semitism to impede any legal proceedings or investigations into its crimes against the Palestinians.

The Israeli ambassador highlighted South Africa's role in what he labeled a "despicable prosecution." He called on the world body to reject these actions if they still uphold reason and morality.

He, however, did not comment on the climbing death toll in the Gaza Strip or outline any possible end for the violence, choosing only to attack the ICJ and the UN for only hearing a case against the atrocities taking place. 

18:10 The Combined Maritime Forces (CMF) has warned all ships to “stay well away from Bab al-Mandeb,” tanker body INTERTANKO said in a note circulated to its members.

“The threat period for shipping is expected to last for several days,” the note, seen by Reuters, said.

CMF is a multinational maritime partnership led by the US from Bahrain, the base for the US Navy Fifth Fleet. CMF has 39 members, including NATO and European states, regional countries, and other nations.

INTERTANKO represents the greater part of the world’s independent tanker fleet, with about 185 independent member companies encompassing more than 4,000 vessels.

18:00 Germany announced its support for Israel and opposes the accusation of genocide at the International Court of Justice.

In a statement, Chancellor Olaf Scholz's Spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said that Berlin intends to formally intervene when judges consider whether genocide has occurred and will express its opinion as a third party.

Germany, the author of the Holocaust, has, along with the UK and the US, endorsed Israel's brutal war and opposed any ceasefire despite the mounting toll of Palestinians killed.

17:50 Here are some of the most recent photos coming from Gaza.

Palestinians look at the destruction after an Israeli strike in Khan Younis. AP

Palestinians children wounded in an Israeli strike are treated in a hospital in Khan Younis. AP

Palestinian bride Afnan Jibrilis escorted by her father  during her wedding at the UNRWA School in the al-Salam neighborhood of Rafah, depsite the Israeli genocidal war. AFP

17:30 The Israeli occupation army said that 15 soldiers were wounded in Gaza battles in the past 24 hours.

The figure raises the total number of wounded soldiers and officers since 7 October to 2,511.

Over the past 98 days of the war, at least 520 soldiers have been killed, including 186 since the start of Israel’s ground invasion of the Gaza Strip on 27 October.

17:10 Al Jazeera reports that 11 people have been killed in an Israeli attack on the Fayyad family home in the Mashal’ah area, south of Deir Al-Balah.

“The bodies reached the hospital in torn pieces,” the network said. “People were killed in tents set up near the house.”

The owner of the house, Bashir Fayyad, was killed along with his daughter and two sons. The home was hosting displaced families, the network explained.

16:24 All internet and telecom services in Gaza were cut as a result of the Israeli bombardment, the main operator said.

Platel, the provider of telecommunications and internet services in Gaza, has regretfully announced a complete disruption of all services (mobile, landline, internet) in the region due to the ongoing Israel attacks.

In a statement, Platel expressed deep apologies for the interruption, citing the continuous aggression as the cause. The telecommunications company acknowledged the impact this outage would have on the lives of the people in Gaza and extended its prayers for their safety and the protection of their homeland.

The service disruption further exacerbates the challenges faced by the people of Gaza, who are already grappling with the consequences of the conflict. 

16:14 The International Court of Justice (ICJ) wrapped up the two-day hearing into South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide in its war on Gaza, as Israel rejected accusations and justified the violence as a response to Hamas' operation.

Israel's legal team, led by Tal Becker and Malcolm Shaw, showed the court images attempting to humanize Israeli casualties while disregarding Palestinian deaths as a matter of numbers that can be disputed. 

Becker also questioned the credibility of the reported death toll of over 23,400 Palestinians, dismissing it as unverified statistics provided by Hamas itself.

Israel's team argued that civilian harm in urban warfare is an unintended but lawful consequence of attacks on military targets. 

Christopher Staker, a member of Israel's defense team, said that Israel's military operation is a legitimate act of "self-defense," claiming that imposing provisional measures would hinder Israel's ability to contend with the security threats it faces, including ongoing attacks by Hamas and the need to rescue captives in Gaza.

Israel's legal team also claimed that Tel Aviv had taken steps to address the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, alleging that the standards required for applying provisional measures, namely "irreparable harm and urgency," have not been met.

However, both Noam and Staker failed to address the rhetoric espoused by Knesset members, where Tally Gotliv, a Knesset member for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, condemned the entry of humanitarian aid and food to Gaza, suggesting that Gazans should be "thirsted and starved," following similar comments invoking the desire to expel Palestinians from Gaza. Moshe Saada, another Knesset member for Netanyahu's Likud party, has called on all Israelis to support the "destroy all Gazans" and end the "Palestinian matter." 

Furthermore, Israel's team blamed Hamas for the massive destruction of Gaza's infrastructure and civilian buildings. 

Arguing against the ICJ issuing provisional measures to halt attacks on Gaza, Israel's legal team pretended that "the scope and intensity" of Israel's operations have already been decreasing. Israel's legal team says "it is absurd" to suggest that the only way to stop the genocide in Gaza is to halt the military operation as a whole.

Invoking genocidal comments by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the legal team claimed that Netanyahu's Amalek statement was misquoted. 

Netanyahu had previously said in a televised address on 28 October: “You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible. And we do remember.” He referred to it again in a letter to Israeli soldiers on 3 November. These verses of the Torah, used by Netanyahu, have a long history of being used by Jews on the far right to justify killing Palestinians. In these verses, God commands King Saul in the first Book of Samuel to kill every person in Amalek, a rival nation to ancient Israel, which is a clear indication of genocidal intent. 

South Africa states that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians and has submitted evidence stating that "acts and omissions" by Israel "are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnic group."

South Africa's legal team highlights public rhetoric, including comments from Benjamin Netanyahu, as evidence of "genocidal intent." They argue that under international law, genocide is defined as committing acts to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

Following the Israeli defense on Friday, Pretoria's Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola said Israel failed to respond to the genocide case and it seems unable to condemn the practices of its soldiers.

The ICJ will likely rule within a matter of weeks on South Africa's request. Its rulings are final and legally binding, but it has little power to enforce them.

15:30 The winter has brought new threats to families across the Gaza Strip, the UNRWA said.

"As winter sets in, families in Gaza barely have enough clothes and blankets," the UNRWA clarified.

Many of the forcibly displaced 1.9 million people fled with few belongings and are facing further suffering. Hundreds of thousands are sheltering in incredibly cold plastic tents, trying in vain to keep dry.

14:32 Israel killed at least 23,708 Palestinians and wounded 60,005 since the start of the war in Gaza, according to the ministry's most recent toll.

Some 151 Palestinians had been killed and 248 injured in the past 24 hours, the ministry added.

About 7,000 others are missing under the rubble and presumed dead, but are not counted as part of the official death toll.

14:00 Commenting on the British and US strikes on Yemen, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that London and Washington support Israel in its war on the Gaza Strip and are attempting to "flood the region with blood."

​He also expressed his belief that Israel will be condemned for its crimes in Gaza. 

"We believe in the justice that will be achieved at the International Court of Justice in The Hague and we believe that it will find Israel guilty," he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin "Netanyahu has nowhere to hide, there is no defense (for his actions)," the Turkish president added. 

13:40 Oxfam said that the average daily death toll in Gaza exceeds any other conflict in the 21st century. 

The Israeli army is killing 250 Palestinians per day with many more lives at risk from hunger, disease, and cold, the confederation of 21 independent charitable organizations noted.

Using publicly available data, Oxfam said that the average number of deaths per day in Gaza is significantly higher than any recent major armed conflict including Syria (96.5 deaths per day), Sudan (51.6), Iraq (50.8), Ukraine (43.9), Afghanistan (23.8), and Yemen (15.8).

The aid agency is warning that people are being increasingly forced into smaller areas due to constant bombardment, as they are forced to flee from places they have previously been told are safe, but nowhere in Gaza is truly secure.

Over one million people – more than half the population – have been forced to seek shelter in Rafah on the Egyptian border.

Oxfam staff in Rafah report massive overcrowding, with very little food and water, and essential medicines having run out.

This crisis is further compounded by Israel's restrictions on the entry of aid, closing borders, imposing a siege, and denying unfettered access. Currently, only 10 percent of the weekly food needed is getting in.

“The scale and atrocities that Israel is visiting upon Gaza are truly shocking. For 100 days the people of Gaza have endured a living hell. Nowhere is safe and the entire population is at risk of famine," Oxfam’s Middle East Director Sally Abi Khalil said. 

“It is unimaginable that the international community is watching the deadliest rate of conflict of the 21st century unfold, while continuously blocking calls for a ceasefire,” she added.

13:20 Israel's legal team at the ICJ claimed that Netanyahu's Amalek statement was misquoted.

Yet, the Israeli prime minister has said in a televised address on 28 October: "You must remember what Amalek has done to you, says our Holy Bible. And we do remember." He referred to it again in a letter to Israeli soldiers on 3 November.

13:00 The United Nations Human Rights Office said on Friday that Israel had repeatedly failed to uphold international humanitarian law since it launched its war in Gaza.

“We’ve repeatedly highlighted Israel’s recurring failures to uphold the fundamental principles of international humanitarian law: distinction, proportionality, and precautions in carrying out attacks,” said Elizabeth Throssell, spokesperson for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

“The High Commissioner has stressed that breaches of these obligations risk exposure to liability for war crimes, and has also warned of the risks of other atrocity crimes,” she stated.

12:20 In a statement released by the Yemeni armed forces, the Houthi rebels strongly condemned the brutal aggression carried out by the American and British enemies.

The statement referred to these aggressions as continued support of Israeli crimes in Gaza and highlighted the devastating onslaught of 73 airstrikes in Yemen.

The strikes targeted the capital city of Sanaa as well as the provinces of Hodeidah, Taiz, Hajjah, and Saada, killing five Houthi soldiers and injuring six others from the Yemeni armed forces.

The statement emphasized that the American and British bear full responsibility for their criminal aggression against the Yemeni people. It made clear that such aggression will not go unanswered and without punishment.

The Houthi leader Mohammed Ali Al-Houthi condemned the airstrikes as "barbaric" and "terrorist." He vowed to respond to the US and UK aggression.


The joint statement issued on Friday by the US and the UK highlighted that the strikes aimed to "disrupt and degrade" the Houthi rebels' capabilities to threaten global trade and the lives of international mariners.

The statement, supported by only 10 countries including the Netherlands, Canada, Bahrain, and Australia, emphasized that the strikes were conducted in line with the right of individual and collective self-defense.

The UK Ministry of Defence revealed its role in the attacks, stating that four RAF Typhoon FGR4s, assisted by a Voyager air refueling tanker, conducted strikes on two Houthi sites connected to attacks on Red Sea shipping. The targets included a site at Bani used for drone operations and the airfield at Abbs, which was involved in launching cruise missiles and drones over the Red Sea.

Russia's foreign ministry has censured the military strikes in Yemen, denouncing them as a "gamble" and deeming them a "direct threat to global peace and security."

“We believe that the gamble by the so-called ‘coalition' forces in Yemen poses a direct threat to global peace and security,” a spokesperson for the ministry said, noting that Russia has requested a meeting of the UN Security Council “where our principled assessment of these illegal actions will be voiced.”

12:05 The relentless Israeli bombing of the besieged region persists, with rescuers from the Palestinian Red Crescent undertaking the grim task of transporting the bodies of nine killed Palestinians and 13 wounded in an Israeli airstrike in the Al-Masha’la area of Deir Al-Balah.

Nine Palestinians, including children and at least one baby, have been killed in an Israeli strike on a home in Rafah.

Figures from the UNRWA reveal that at least 330 people have lost their lives while seeking refuge in its facilities.

12:00 Israel has put forward two legal advisers to defend itself against accusations of committing genocide in its war on Gaza, saying calls for provisional measures for Israel to end fighting in Gaza “cannot stand.”

The Israeli lawyers have argued that South Africa’s claims against Israel give a “distorted factual and legal picture,” and that Pretoria has close ties with Hamas, undermining the credibility of its claims.

Israel advanced the justification of the right to self-defense in the face of the mounting death toll of civilians, saying that possible violations by some soldiers do not necessarily reflect the state policy.

If Israeli forces have broken the rules of conflict, the matter can be handled by “Israel’s legal system," Tel Aviv said in its defense.


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