Israeli soldier dies in Jerusalem shooting as ICJ hears occupation case of Palestine - as it happened

Ahram Online , Thursday 22 Feb 2024

As the Israeli war enters its 139th day, the Gaza Strip endures continued attacks from Israeli forces, while an Israeli soldier died and eight others were injured in a shooting near Jerusalem, and the International Court of Justice continues hearings on the illegality of Israel's occupation of Palestine.

A man sits amid the debris of destroyed houses following overnight Israeli air strikes in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 22, 2024. AFP


22:00 Egypt’s Al-Azhar denounced on Thursday the US veto killing the Algerian draft resolution in support of a ceasefire in Gaza earlier this week at the United National Security Council, calling it a practical exercise of power arrogance.

Al-Azhar Al-Sharif denounced the arbitrary use by the American regime of its veto right for the third consecutive time, objecting to the cessation of the savage Zionist aggression on Gaza, coinciding with the approval of a new package of American aid to the Zionist entity, in a scene that demonstrates the involvement of the American regime in supporting the Zionist aggression on the Gaza Strip,” said Al-Azhar in its statement.

On Tuesday, the United States used its veto power for the third time, blocking the resolution proposed by Algeria on behalf of the Arab Group.

Thirteen members of the Council supported the draft, while the United Kingdom abstained, and the US cast the sole veto against the ceasefire for the third time since October.

Al-Azhar affirmed that the American use of the "veto" to continue the Zionist aggression on Gaza is a practical exercise of power arrogance, domination of the bloodthirsty tendency, and obstruction of efforts to save innocent Palestinians.

It called for reconsidering the mechanism for approving the veto right in the Security Council and establishing modern humanitarian standards and criteria to regulate its use in endorsing peace among nations.

The world's most influential Sunni institution urged the world to intervene to stop the rivers of blood in Palestine, put an end to this savage aggression, and halt the massacres and daily crimes.

Al-Azhar also emphasized that the Security Council's failure to issue a resolution to stop the Zionist aggression on Gaza after more than four months and the loss of nearly 30,000 martyrs, most of whom are children and women, is a disgrace on the forehead of the international community.

“This failure reflects the world's helplessness and weakness in front of the arrogance of one state that does not respect the decisions of other participating countries in the resolution,” said Al-Azhar, adding that what is happening in Gaza is a humanitarian tragedy by all measures, threatening the return of the 21st-century civilization to eras of slavery and barbarism.

Al-Azhar called for setting specific standards and applying them fairly to preserve the lives of innocent souls who have committed no crime other than being born in the Middle East, especially in the wounded land of Palestine.

20:15 Israeli forces withdrew from Gaza's Nasser Medical Complex on Thursday, a week after raiding it, the Palestinian health ministry said in a statement.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said the hospital in Khan Younis, Gaza's second largest and crucial to the territory's crippled health services, stopped working last week after a week-long Israeli siege followed by the raid.

The WHO and its partners carried out three evacuations from the hospital, which it described as non-functional.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, a WHO spokesperson said evacuations were a "very difficult and high-risk mission".

20:00 Brazil said Thursday that the Group of 20 nations broadly backs a two-state solution to the conflict in the Middle East at the close of a two-day meeting of foreign ministers from the world's biggest economies.

There was "virtual unanimity for the two-state solution as the only possible solution for the conflict between Israel and Palestine," Brazilian Foreign Minister Mauro Vieira told journalists in Rio de Janeiro.

"Every (minister) that addressed the issue voiced support" for a two-state solution, "and it was a lot" of ministers, a Brazilian foreign ministry source told AFP.

18:00 At least two Hezbollah fighters were killed and three others wounded in an Israeli drone strike on a residential building in south Lebanon on Thursday, a security source said.

Lebanon's Hezbollah and its arch-foe Israel have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the Israeli war on Gaza broke out on 7 October.

An Israeli drone shot two guided missiles at the building in Kfar Rumman, near south Lebanon's Nabatiyeh, the security source said, declining to be identified as they were not authorised to brief the media.

Kfar Rumman lies around 12 kilometres (seven miles) from the Israeli border.

Hezbollah had claimed a series of attacks on Israeli troops and positions on Thursday, including one which it said was in response to "Israeli attacks on villages and civilian houses".

The violence on Israel's northern border has sparked fears of another full-blown war between Israel and Hezbollah like that of 2006.

Last week, Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah vowed that Israel would pay "with blood" after 10 civilians, including seven members of one family, were killed in Lebanon's largest single-day death toll so far. Five Hezbollah fighters were also killed.

On Wednesday, an Israeli strike killed a woman and a girl, prompting retaliatory fire from Hezbollah.

17:45 Yemen's Houthis have introduced "submarine weapons" in their attacks on seagoing vessels, which they say they are carrying out in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza, according to their leader.

"Operations in the Red and Arabian Seas, Bab al-Mandab Strait, and the Gulf of Aden are continuing, escalating, and effective," said Abdul-Malik Al-Houthi in a televised speech.

The address came hours after a suspected Houthi missile attack set a ship ablaze in the Gulf of Aden as Israel intercepted what appeared to be another Houthi attack near the port city of Eilat, according to Israeli authorities.

15:40 Ayman Safadi, Jordan’s representative at the ICJ, said: “Israeli aggression on Gaza, which your esteemed court has indicated warrants examination of plausible genocide, rages on.”

This aggression, he said, has to end and those responsible for it must face justice.

“No country must be allowed to be above the law,” he added. “Israel is acting and has been allowed to act in complete disregard of international law. That cannot continue."

“The occupation is unlawful, it is inhumane, it must end, yet Israel has been systematically consolidating the occupation that is blatantly denying Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” he added.

Michael Wood, representing Jordan, said at the ICJ hearing that “the only way for the [Palestinian] right to self-determination to be exercised is for the [Israeli] occupation to come to an end.”

"Israel has engaged in a policy of progressively establishing settlements in so-called outposts," he said, adding that "Israeli settlements undermine the establishment of a sovereign, independent, contiguous, and viable Palestinian state."

He further affirmed that "Israel’s policies and practices when considered in their entirety leave no doubt as to Israel’s intention to annex occupied Palestinian territory."

Meanwhile, Jordan’s second representative, Minister of Justice Ahmad Ziadat, said Israeli violations of Muslim and Christian holy sites run contrary to international law.

Ziadat referenced multiple raids, attacks, and closures of the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

He added that attacks on holy sites in Jerusalem “threaten their integrity.”

“They inflame the global religious tension and create confrontations along religious lines,” he said.

15:30 The United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees has no “plan B” past March should donor countries that withheld funding following Israeli allegations uphold their suspensions, according to the head of its Lebanon office, Dorothee Klaus.

“We hope that as many donors as possible indicate to the agency that they are reconsidering the funding freeze and that funding will be restored to the agency, hopefully in such a way that we don’t have a cash flow issue, and services continue uninterrupted,” she said, according to Al Jazeera.

“We do not have a plan B.”

Already, her office may not be able to finance its quarterly cash distribution to 65 percent of Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, the network added.

“This will be the first indicator to the community that UNRWA is cash-strapped, and this would be the first service that we will not be able to provide in quarter one,” Klaus said.

15:22 Clashes erupted at the Israel-controlled Karm Abu Salem border crossing with Gaza, as Israeli security forces attempted to disperse a crowd of Israeli protesters blocking the entrance to the strip, according to local media.

Israeli protesters gathered at the crossing to block the transfer of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

14:16 In its opening oral statement at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Japan strongly criticized Israel, stressing that Tel Aviv "is acting in complete disregard of international law" and that "no country must be above the law." 

Japan denounced the occupation of the Palestinian territories as both "unlawful" and "inhumane."

Japan’s legal team said: “No country must be allowed to be above the law” and argued that “Israel is acting and has been allowed to act in complete disregard of international law.”

Moreover, Tomohiro Mikanagi, a legal adviser of Japan’s foreign ministry, informed the ICJ that Japan supports a "two-state solution," emphasizing that it is the only viable path for both Israelis and Palestinians to coexist peacefully.

Speaking earlier, Ireland's representative at the court delivered a scathing indictment of Israel's actions in the occupied Palestinian territories (OPT). The Irish legal representative stated that "Israel has employed various means to acquire and exert control over as much land in the OPT as possible for non-military purposes."

The representative continued by highlighting Israel's strategy of permanent construction on the acquired land, particularly through the development of illegal settlements, resulting in a significant alteration of the demographics of the West Bank.

Additionally, Israel extends its domestic laws to those residing in these settlements, blurring the distinction between Israel and the OPT, thus violating Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Furthermore, Ireland condemned Israel's unlawful destruction and appropriation of property throughout the Palestinian territories.

"This policy aims to encourage and facilitate the expansion of settlements," it said. 

Additionally, there has been a recent surge in reports of Palestinian civilians enduring sustained and severe violence by Israeli settlers, often with minimal or no protection from Israeli security forces, in "a blatantly contravene International Humanitarian Law."

14:00 "How many more times must we remind that: There is no safe place in Gaza," Philippe Lazzarini, commissioner-general of UNRWA said in a post on X.

"Diseases are rampant. Famine is looming. Water is at a trickle. Food production has come to a halt. Hospitals have turned into battlefields. One million children face daily traumas," he added.


13:43 Israel is seeking Palestinians who are not affiliated with Hamas to manage civilian affairs in areas of the Gaza Strip designed as testing grounds for postwar administration of the territory, a senior Israeli official said on Thursday, according to Reuters.

Israel’s Channel 12 TV reported that the Zeitoun neighbourhood of northern Gaza City was a candidate for implementation of the plan, under which local merchants and civil society leaders would distribute humanitarian aid.

13:00 Iran's representative at the ICJ said that Israeli occupation has violated and continues to violate the Palestinians’ right to self-determination, adding that the occupation grossly violated international law through demographic changes.

“Israel has been practising forced displacement of Palestinians since 1948,” the representative said.

Following Iran’s argument, Iraq's representative told the ICJ that Israel must be held accountable for its crimes and bear responsibility for violating human rights, accusing Israel of seeking to completely isolate the Palestinians.

12:45 The Palestinian foreign ministry asserted in a statement that the Israeli occupation state persists in perpetrating severe forms of revenge and racism against Palestinian civilians.

"These actions force civilians to endure unprecedented collective punishments, subjecting their lives to an imminent cycle of death through airstrikes or deprivation of necessities, such as food and water."

The statement added that "The occupying forces deliberately target some trucks permitted to enter northern Gaza, revelling in the scenes of famine and the flood of desperate individuals attempting to reach any truck carrying essential supplies like flour or other food items."

Furthermore, the ministry highlighted the additional challenges posed by environmental pollution and the spread of epidemics and infectious diseases, particularly among children. American epidemiologists warned in their report that approximately 85,000 Palestinian citizens in the strip face the threat of death within six months due to diseases, epidemics, food shortages, and famine.

Emphasizing the imperative nature of ceasing the ongoing war, the ministry stressed that halting hostilities is the only means to safeguard civilians and ensure access to their basic needs.


12:25 On the fourth day of public hearings at the International Court of Justice into the illegality arising from the policies and practices of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, China said that Palestinians have the right to engage in “armed struggle” against Israel.

Taking to the stand, Ma Xinmin, a Chinese foreign ministry legal adviser, said that “in pursuit of the right to self-determination” the Palestinian people have the right to the “use of force to resist foreign oppression and to complete the establishment of the Palestinian state,” adding that "it is an inalienable right well founded in international law."

Citing examples of “various people [who] freed themselves from colonial rule” through armed resistance, he affirmed that using force against Israelis by Palestinians is not terrorism but rather a legitimate armed struggle.

"Their practices serve as convincing evidence for the legitimacy of struggling by all available means, including armed struggle, by peoples under colonial domination or foreign occupation."

Iran, Iraq, Ireland, Japan, and Jordan will be delivering statements during the day.


11:50 Israeli officials acknowledged in private that they have no precise strategy for how to move 1.2 million civilians from Rafah, how long it will take, or where the Palestinians will go, Bloomberg reported.

In a brief phone interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has ordered the military to come up with a plan to move civilians and is awaiting its arrival.

11:30 Heads of UN humanitarian agencies and global NGOs have warned that civilians in Gaza are in extreme peril, calling on Israel to fulfil its legal obligation to provide food and medical supplies and facilitate aid operations into the strip.

The principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), the coordinating body of global humanitarian organizations, released a statement, in which it said: “Civilians in Gaza are in extreme peril while the world watches on.”

“We are calling on the world’s leaders to prevent an even worse catastrophe,” the statement said.

In addition, they called for the UN agency assisting Palestine refugees UNRWA “to receive the resources it needs to provide life-saving assistance” and “a halt to campaigns seeking to discredit the UN and non-governmental organizations doing their best to save lives.”

They listed requirements “to avoid an even worse catastrophe,” including an immediate ceasefire; protection of civilians and civilian infrastructure; immediate release of hostages; reliable entry points for aid; security assurances and unimpeded access; a functioning humanitarian notification system; roads cleared of explosive ordnance; and a stable communication network.


11:20 Israel launched heavy airstrikes on southern Gaza's Rafah after threatening to send troops into the city, where around 1.4 million Palestinians have sought shelter from around the territory.

Five people were killed when a home in Rafah was targeted during an intense Israeli bombing campaign across Rafah city, according to Al Jazeera.

AFP reporters heard multiple airstrikes on Rafah in the early hours of Thursday, particularly in the Al-Shaboura neighbourhood.

Abdel-Rahman Mohamed Jumaa said he lost his family in recent strikes on Rafah.

"I found my wife lying in the street," he told AFP. "Then I saw a man carrying a girl and I ran towards him and ... picked her up, realizing she was my daughter."

He was holding a small shrouded corpse in his arms.

11:09 At least 23 American citizens have been killed while serving in the Israeli army or police since the start of the Israeli ground offensive in Gaza, according to the US embassy in occupied Jerusalem, the Washington Post reported.

Though US citizens make up less than two percent of Israel’s population, they account for almost 10 percent of Israeli war's dead since the start of the ground invasion in Gaza, the Post said.

21 Americans in the Israeli army units have been killed inside Gaza. Others died along Israel’s northern border with Lebanon. A US citizen was killed in Jerusalem while serving in Israel’s border police.

11:00 A missile attack targeted a vessel transiting the Gulf of Aden, causing a fire on board, a British maritime security agency said.

"A vessel was attacked by two missiles, resulting in a fire onboard," the United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations said, adding that "coalition forces are responding."

On Wednesday, American forces launched fresh strikes against Houthi rebels in Yemen who have been targeting commercial shipping and US naval forces in the Red Sea since November in a campaign they say is in solidarity with Palestinians in Gaza.

The US military said the US Central Command forces conducted four strikes against seven mobile Houthi anti-ship cruise missiles and one mobile anti-ship ballistic missile launcher that was prepared to launch toward the Red Sea

10:45 The Palestinian health ministry said that at least 29,410 people have been killed in the Israeli bombardment on Gaza since 7 October.

A ministry statement said a total of 97 people died in the past 24 hours, while another 69,465 have been wounded since the war began.

10:18 Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton faced public backlash at the World Forum in Berlin, organized by Cinema for Peace. Members of the audience at the cinema called her a "war criminal" and a "hypocrite" and condemned her complicity in Israel's war on Gaza.

Protesters called out her hypocrisy in speaking about human rights while being supportive of Israel’s war on Gaza, which has killed over 29,000 civilians, including more than 12,000 children.

A video circulated by activists on social media showed that Clinton was interrupted about seven times during her speech.

When asked “Are you not shocked by the high civilian casualty numbers in Gaza?” Clinton responded: “Of course, I’m not shocked because that is what happens in war.”

The former presidential candidate added: “But I’m disturbed by this high number, and Israel has the right to defend itself.”

During Clinton’s response, she was interrupted by an attendee who said: “Israel is not defending itself, it’s a genocide that you’re paying for. And then you talk about women’s rights? Are you serious? What women’s rights are you talking about?”

The activist continued: “Now you speaking of cinema for peace? We are watching a cinema of genocide. You are not a woman; you are not a human being! You should be ashamed of yourself. Free Palestine. You have blood on your hands!”

While the guards forced the activist out of the hall, others called out: “You have been responsible for the killings of hundreds of Pakistanis. You have supported wars in Afghanistan, in Iraq, all over the Middle East.”

“You are a war criminal. You are a hypocrite. Shame on you. Shame on all of you for supporting imperialism. Down with imperialism whether in the East or the West. Free Palestine.”


10:00 Lebanese media outlets reported that Israeli artillery is striking targets in southern Lebanon towns close to the border.

The reports came a short while after two anti-tank missiles were fired at northern Israel, one of which hit a home in the settlement of Yuval.

The Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement and the Israeli army have been exchanging near-daily fire across the border since the war on Gaza broke out.

09:50 Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan called on the international community to take a more active role toward an urgent ceasefire in Gaza and a two-state solution to the conflict during talks at the G20 meeting in Brazil, a Turkish diplomatic source said.

Turkey, which has harshly criticized Israel for its attacks on Gaza and backed measures to have it tried for genocide at the World Court, has repeatedly called for a ceasefire.

Fidan told a G20 foreign ministers meeting in Rio de Janeiro on Wednesday that the “savagery” in Gaza must be stopped and discussed steps to achieve an urgent ceasefire and get more aid into the territory during talks with counterparts from the United States, Germany, and Egypt, the source said.

“Steps that can be taken to achieve a full ceasefire as soon as possible were discussed,” during talks between Fidan and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the source said, adding that Fidan also discussed “concrete steps” to stop the fighting with German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock.

“The fact that a decision on a ceasefire did not come out of the UN Security Council once again has shown that reform is a must,” Fidan told a session at the G20 meeting, according to one of his aides, referring to a third US veto on a ceasefire call at the 15-member body.

“The stance shown by Brazilian President Lula (Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva) is admirable,” the aide cited Fidan as saying about comments by Lula in which he likened the war in Gaza to the Nazi genocide during World War II and which caused a diplomatic spat.

Brazil criticized the “paralysis” of the UN Security Council on the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as it opened a G20 meeting Wednesday.

Opening the two-day meeting, which featured US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Brazil’s top diplomat Mauro Vieira said the explosion of global conflicts shows that international institutions like the United Nations are not working.

“Multilateral institutions are not properly equipped to deal with the current challenges, as has been demonstrated by the Security Council’s unacceptable paralysis on the ongoing conflicts” in Gaza and Ukraine, Vieira said, adding that the situation was costing “innocent lives.”

🇺🇳 #Brazil criticized the “paralysis” of the UN Security Council on the wars in Gaza and Ukraine as it opened a G20 meeting Wednesday, where the international community's deep divisions were on display FRANCE 24's @ofarry reports 👇 — FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) February 22, 2024

09:32 A Michigan group backed by US prominent state and local lawmakers is making a last-minute push to get 10,000 Democrats to vote “uncommitted” in the state’s primary next Tuesday as a warning to US President Joe Biden that his support for Israel and refusal to call for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip could cost him the state in November’s presidential contest, The Washington Post reported.

The group called Listen to Michigan has spent the past two weeks feverishly calling and organizing residents across the state in hopes of showing that voters opposed to Biden’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza can swing the election — and, organizers hope, further pressure the president to call for a ceasefire.

09:30 Israel said it intercepted what appeared to be an attack launched by Yemen's Houthis near the port city of Eilat.

Sirens sounded early Thursday morning, followed by videos posted online of what appeared to be an interception in the sky overhead.

The Israeli army later described the interception as being carried out by its Arrow missile defence system.

The Houthis did not immediately claim the attack. They typically acknowledge assaults they conduct hours afterwards.

09:00 The Israeli occupation forces opened fire at three Palestinian young men near the Al-Zaeem military checkpoint, east of occupied Jerusalem, WAFA news agency reported.

Israeli media outlets reported that a soldier died and eight were wounded in a shooting at a military checkpoint near a colonial settlement east of Jerusalem.

The Israeli police said in a statement that three gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons on vehicles near Maale Adumim settlement.

It said that the security forces at the site killed two of the attackers. A third was found during searches of the area afterwards and was detained.

Meanwhile, the Israeli occupation army stormed the area early on Thursday morning and shot two Palestinians during a raid on the Balata refugee camp, east of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, the Palestinian WAFA news agency reported.

The Palestine Red Crescent Society said one man was shot in his back and a second in his hand. It is not known how serious their injuries are.


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