Israel-Hamas war: South Africa urges ICJ Rafah intervention

South Africa filed an "urgent request" at the International Court of Justice over Israel's planned military operations in Rafah urging its intervention to protect Palestinian rights

Israel has said it is planning to expand its ground assault into Rafah. (photo: DW)
Israel has said it is planning to expand its ground assault into Rafah. (photo: DW)


Hezbollah: Only Gaza ceasefire will end Lebanon border hostilities

The leader of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah says that his troops would only end their regular shelling of northern Israel when a "ceasefire" puts an end to Israeli "aggression" in the Gaza Strip.

"On that day the shooting stops in Gaza, we will stop the shooting in the south [of Lebanon]," said Hassan Nasrallah in a televised address on Tuesday night, but warned: "If they [the Israelis] broaden the confrontation, we will do the same."

Iran-backed Hezbollah has been trading almost daily fire with the Israeli military across Lebanon's southern border in support of its smaller Palestinian ally Hamas. At least 243 people have been killed on the Lebanese side, mainly Hezbollah fighters but also 30 civilians, according to the AFP news agency.

The Israeli military says nine soldiers and six civilians have been killed while thousands of Israelis have been evacuated amid fears of another full-scale conflict.

Foreign ministers from countries including Germany, France and the United Kingdom have visited the Lebanese capital Beirut in recent weeks in an effort to ease tensions, but Nasrallah said:

"All the delegations that have come to Lebanon over the past four months ... have only one goal: the security of Israel, protecting Israel."

French Foreign Minister Stephane Sejourne said on Monday he had put forward "proposals" during a recent visit to Lebanon which, according to the Reuters news agency, included the withdrawal of Hezbollah's elite Radwan unit at least 10 kilometers (six miles) from the border.

"Let nobody think Lebanon is weak and afraid, or that they can impose conditions," Nasrallah said, warning that, should Israel launch a full-scale with Hezbollah, which is significantly bigger and better armed than Hamas, they should "prepare shelters, hotels, schools and tents for two million people" who would be displaced and "not return."

In late January, Israeli defense Minister Yoav Gallant said Israeli troops would "very soon go into action" near the country's northern border with Lebanon.

Last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz warned that "time is running out" to reach a diplomatic solution, saying: "Israel will act militarily to return the evacuated citizens" to its northern border area if no diplomatic solution is reached.

Hezbollah is an Iran-backed political party with a military wing, based in Lebanon. It is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Germany while the EU lists its armed wing as a terrorist group.

CIA, Mossad chiefs reportedly in Cairo for cease-fire talks

Top intelligence officials from the United States, Israel, Qatar and Egypt reportedly met in Cairo for further cease-fire talks on Tuesday.

Multiple news agencies reported that CIA chief William Burns and Mossad head David Barnea were among the representatives to attend the talks.

Qatari Prime Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani also arrived in Cairo for the meeting.

A senior Egyptian official told the Associated Press that the meeting would focus on "crafting a final draft" of a six-week truce, with guarantees that the parties would continue negotiations toward a permanent cease-fire.

UNRWA chief says calls to dismantle agency 'shortsighted'

The head of the UN Palestinian refugee agency (UNRWA) said that calls for it to be dismantled were short-sighted and would diminish its ability to respond to the humanitarian crisis.

"I have talked to the member states about all these calls to have UNRWA dismantled, to be terminated. I have warned about the impact, I have said that these calls are short-sighted," UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini said after a meeting with member states at the United Nations in Geneva.

"The impact is not just on the short-term. It not just weakens our collective ability to respond to the humanitarian crisis..." Lazzarini said.

Lazzarini has been facing questions about a newly found tunnel under the UN organization's headquarters in Gaza and also allegations that UNRWA employees have been collaborating with Hamas, a designated terror organization in the US, the EU, and several other countries.

Israeli intelligence claims 12 of UNRWA's estimated 13,000 employees were involved in the Hamas-led terror attacks in Israel on October 7.

Nine of those singled out were fired while an internal investigation was launched.

The allegations have led to the suspension of contributions to the agency from a number of UN states, including Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

Al Jazeera says 2 journalists injured in Rafah air strike

Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera says two of its journalists had been severely wounded in an Israeli air strike near Rafah, in southern Gaza.

Al Jazeera said that Ismail Abu Omar and cameraman Ahmad Matar were in northern Rafah documenting the living conditions of displaced Palestinians.

The broadcaster on Tuesday reported that "they were directly targeted by a missile fired by a drone…"

Omar had to have his leg amputated as a result of the injuries he sustained, to save his life, the broadcaster said.

According to the press freedom watchdog the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) at least 85 journalists and media workers were among the more than 28,000 people killed since the Israel-Hamas war began.

South Africa approaches World Court over Israel's Rafah offensive

South Africa's government said it had made an urgent request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider whether Israel's decision to expand military operations into Rafah required the court to use its power to prevent breach of rights of Palestinians in Gaza.

South Africa's office of the presidency said in a statement "it was gravely concerned that the unprecedented military offensive against Rafah, as announced by the State of Israel, has already led to and will result in further large scale killing, harm and destruction."

The statement went on to say: "This would be in serious and irreparable breach of the Genocide Convention and of the Court's Order of 26 January 2024." 

The ICJ last month ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, in a case brought by South Africa.

Russia 'ready to support' moves leading to hostage release, cease-fire

The Kremlin is ready to back any move that could lead to the release of hostages and a ceasefire, Russia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs says.

"We are ready to support any action that will lead to the release of the hostages and a ceasefire," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said.

"But we believe that the actions should be constructive, aimed at a comprehensive solution of the problem within the framework of international law and previously adopted Security Council resolutions," Peskov added.

The comments come as international pressure continues to mount with calls for Israel to halt an offensive in the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Israeli forces managed to rescue two hostages during overnight operations Monday in the city.

Of the some 240 hostages abducted in the October 7 attack attacks led by Hamas, a total of 112 have now been freed. Some 130 are still unaccounted for. Of these, about 30 are thought to be dead, according to Israeli officials.

More than 200 people were taken hostage on October 7 in designated a terrorist organization by the US, EU and Israel among others. Around 130 are believed to still be in Gaza.

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Published: 14 Feb 2024, 9:53 AM