3 Palestinians killed in Gaza airstrike targeting Hamas commander

Israel's military will be under increasing scrutiny now that the International Court of Justice has asked Israel for a compliance report in a month

By AP

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Photos: AP
Photos: AP

Published: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 10:01 PM

Last updated: Sat 27 Jan 2024, 11:25 PM

Witnesses said three Palestinians were killed Saturday in an airstrike that Israel's military said was targeting a Hamas commander in southern Gaza, less than a day after the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to do all it could to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in the besieged territory.

Israel's military will be under increasing scrutiny now that the top United Nations court has asked Israel for a compliance report in a month. The court's binding ruling stopped short of ordering a ceasefire, but its orders were in part a rebuke of Israel's conduct in its nearly 4-month war against Gaza's Hamas rulers.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees, the main organisation aiding Gaza’s population amid the humanitarian disaster, saw more countries suspend its funding following allegations that a number of Gaza staff members participated in the Oct. 7 Hamas attack that sparked the war. Britain, Italy and Finland joined the United States, Australia and Canada in placing aid to the agency, known by its acronym UNRWA, on hold.

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The Israel-Hamas war has killed more than 26,000 Palestinians, according to local health officials, destroyed vast swaths of Gaza and displaced nearly 85% of the territory's population of 2.3 million people. The Hamas attack in southern Israel killed about 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and about 250 hostages were taken.

174 Palestinians killed

At least 174 Palestinians were killed over the past day, the Healths Ministry in Gaza said. The ministry does not distinguish between combatants and civilians in its tolls, but has said about two-thirds are women and children.

Bilal al-Siksik said his wife, a son and a daughter were killed in the early morning strike, which came as they slept. He said Friday's ruling from the UN court meant little since it did not stop the war.

“No one can speak in front of them (Israel). America with all its greatness and strength can do nothing," he said, standing beside the rubble and twisted metal of his home.

Rafah and the surrounding areas are crammed with more than 1 million people after Israel’s military ordered civilians to seek refuge there from the fighting. Designated evacuation areas have repeatedly come under airstrikes, with Israel saying it would go after militants as needed.

The World Health Organisation and the medical charity MSF issued urgent warnings about the largest health facility in Khan Younis, Nasser Hospital, saying remaining staff could barely function with supplies running out and intense fighting nearby.

WHO footage showed people in the crowded facility being treated on blood-smeared floors as frantic loved ones shouted and jostled. Cats scavenged on a mound of medical waste.

“Our patients or the cases we receive are suffering severe burns and pain, and they are in desperate need of painkillers,” Dr. Muhammad Harara said. “We are lacking everything, and these are the only painkillers left we have. If you want to count them, they are only for maybe five or four patients.”

Gaza residents expressed dismay that the U.N. court did not order an immediate end to the fighting. The case brought by South Africa alleged Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian territory’s people, a charge Israel vehemently denies. The interim orders did not address the genocide allegations, and a final ruling is expected to take years.

In addition to ruling that Israel must refrain from harming or killing Palestinian civilians while doing all it can to prevent genocide, the court ordered Israel to urgently get basic aid to Gaza.

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