(JTA) — Under pressure from the Biden administration, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Israel has “no intention” of removing Palestinians from the Gaza Strip.
“I want to make a few points absolutely clear: Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population,” Netanyahu said in English in a minute-long video he posted Wednesday to social media. “Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law.”
Netanyahu’s comments came on the eve of the opening of genocide proceedings against Israel at the International Court of Justice.
They also followed weeks of pressure from the Biden administration to explicitly disavow the statements of far-right ministers, including Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, who have called for the removal of Palestinians in the wake of the war launched Oct. 7 when Hamas invaded Israel and killed about 1,200 people. More than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel launched counterstrikes, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, while more than 180 Israeli soldiers have been killed in Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza.
Later in the day, after Netanyahu’s comments, the U.S. State Department issued a statement saying the charge of genocide lacked merit.
“Allegations that Israel is committing genocide are unfounded,” said the statement. “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. Genocide is one of the most heinous acts any entity or individual can commit, and such allegations should only be made with the greatest of care.”
South Africa, which brought the genocide claim to the court, has cited statements by the far-right ministers and others to make its case.
U.S.-Israel differences over the day after the war ends appear to persist, however. Biden has been pushing for Palestinian sovereignty in Gaza as a step toward Palestinian statehood; Netanyahu continues to oppose statehood.
“Our goal is to rid Gaza of Hamas terrorists and free our hostages,” the Israeli prime minister said. “Once this is achieved Gaza can be demilitarized and deradicalized, thereby creating a possibility for a better future for Israel and Palestinians alike.”
Washington Says It Will Not Back Expanded IDF Operations in Rafah
i24 News – Medics reported that Israeli airstrikes overnight in Gaza’s Rafah claimed the lives of 17 individuals on Saturday.
The attacks come as tensions escalate, with over a million Palestinians densely packed into the border city, awaiting a potential full-scale offensive amid widespread destruction across the enclave and limited avenues of escape.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced plans for military action, aiming to evacuate Rafah’s population and dismantle four Hamas battalions allegedly stationed in the area.
As IDF prepares for an intense ground operation in Rafah, its efforts to create safe corridors for Palestinian civilians are made more difficult by the fighting ongoing throughout Gaza. @mcauliffe_marym joins @Nicole_Zedek with the latest updates: pic.twitter.com/83PJfNMEdd
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 10, 2024
Unlike previous conflicts where civilians were urged to seek refuge in southern Gaza, the current situation presents a dilemma as there are no relatively unscathed areas left, leaving residents with nowhere to flee. Aid agencies have warned of the potential for a significant loss of civilian lives should an assault on Rafah occur.
Reports from Gaza City indicate intensified fighting on Saturday, with residents reporting clashes amid the ongoing hostilities.
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, disclosed plans to coordinate the relocation of Rafah residents northward in anticipation of potential military action. However, Egypt has stated its refusal to permit mass displacement of Palestinians into its territory,.
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Numerous Weapons Discovered in UNRWA Premises in Gaza
i24 News – The IDF revealed that it had discovered, in the areas of Shati and Tel al-Hawa in northern Gaza, twenty terrorist infrastructure sites including a tunnel entrance near an UNRWA school. The tunnel, an “important part of Hamas’ military intelligence services,” passed under the building which serves as the main headquarters of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip.
Large quantities of weapons were found in rooms of the building, including rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives. Intelligence and documents discovered in the offices of UNRWA officials confirmed that these offices had also been used by Hamas terrorists, the military claims.
The post Numerous Weapons Discovered in UNRWA Premises in Gaza first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Qatar Says Hamas ‘Promises’ Hostages Received Medicines, But Offers no proof
i24 News – In a recent development, Qatar has informed both Israel and France that Hamas has purportedly agreed to ensure that hostages receive the essential medicines delivered to them in the Gaza Strip.
Last month, Qatar facilitated the transfer of these crucial drugs to Gaza following a comprehensive list compiled with input from the hostages’ respective doctors. The medications in question are deemed “vital,” primarily aimed at addressing chronic illnesses among the hostages.
This development comes amidst ongoing efforts to address the welfare and medical needs of the hostages held in Gaza, with international stakeholders closely monitoring the situation for further updates.
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