Live Updates: Russia blames Israel, US, allies for ongoing Israeli war on Gaza

Live Updates: Russia blames Israel, US, allies for ongoing Israeli war on Gaza

Israel's war on Gaza — now in its 138th day — has killed at least 29,313 Palestinians and wounded 69,333 others.
A man holds the body of his daughter who was killed in the Israeli bombardment of Gaza. / Photo: AP

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

15:53 GMT — Russia has blamed Israel, the US, and its allies for the ongoing Israeli war on Gaza at a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

"We are convinced the tragic events of the 7th of October cannot justify the collective punishment of more than two million Gazans. We cannot accept the logic of those officials in Israel and some Western countries who try to defend the indiscriminate violence against civilians by referring to Israel’s duty to protect its nationals," Vladimir Tarabrin, the Russian envoy to the Netherlands, said at ICJ.

"Violence can only lead to more violence. Hatred brings hatred. This vicious circle must be broken," Tarabrin added.

16:44 GMT — Behavior of Israeli soldiers in Gaza ‘crossed criminal threshold’: Army’s top lawyer

The conduct of Israeli soldiers in Gaza has "crossed the criminal threshold," the military’s highest legal officer has said.

''We have encountered cases of unacceptable conduct that deviate from IDF (army) values and protocols," Yifat Tomer-Yerushalmi said in a letter issued to the army.

She said some of these cases ''crossed the criminal threshold'' and are “being investigated." Tomer-Yerushalmi cited "inappropriate statements that encourage unacceptable actions and operationally unjustifiable use of force, including against detainees" among the criminal behaviour of Israeli soldiers in Gaza.

16:24 GMT — France slams Israeli officials’ statements calling for reinstalling illegal settlements in Gaza

France has condemned Israeli officials’ statements calling for the re-establishment of illegal Jewish settlements in Gaza.

"France reiterates its condemnation of pronouncement of promoting the reinstallation of settlements in Gaza and the transfer of the Palestinian population of Gaza outside this territory," Diego Colas, French Foreign Ministry’s legal affairs director, said at a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories.

He added that France also strongly opposes illegal settlement policy by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories which includes eviction of Palestinian families and destruction of their properties.

16:11 GMT — WHO voices solidarity with Doctors Without Borders after Israeli attack in Gaza

The World Health Organization (WHO) has expressed solidarity with Doctors Without Borders (MSF) after a deadly Israeli strike on a shelter of the medical charity in Gaza.

"WHO stands in solidarity with our colleagues at MSF and extends its condolences for the deaths of their family members," the UN body said on X on the strike that killed two people and injured six in the Al Mawasi area of Khan Younis, a city in the southern Gaza.

According to WHO, those wounded in the attack were subsequently transferred south to a hospital in Rafah city, including two children with burns. "WHO assisted in the medical assessment of the injured," it added.

15:06 GMT — Gaza humanitarian situation 'inhumane': WHO

The humanitarian situation in Gaza is inhumane, the head of the World Health Organization has said, calling the Palestinian territory a "death zone".

"The health and humanitarian situation in Gaza is inhumane and continues to deteriorate," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a media briefing, adding that "on a broader level, Gaza has become a death zone".

14:50 GMT — Hezbollah threatens military escalation against Israel amid rising tensions

Lebanese group Hezbollah has threatened military escalation against Israel if Tel Aviv mounted its air strikes in Lebanon.

''Until now, confrontations have been limited,” Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem said in a speech at an event in Beirut's southern neighbourhood.

"However, we will escalate if the enemy moves to a higher level" in its attacks, he added.

The Palestinian people have endured the "longest protracted occupation in modern history. Photo: Reuters

14:08 GMT — Israel wants to punish all 'Palestinians just for being Palestinians': UN expert

Israel has been using hunger as a "weapon" in its attacks on Gaza, a UN special rapporteur on the right to food told Anadolu.

Michael Fakhri said Israel wants to punish all Palestinians and it is "a genocide," adding that Gaza has never experienced this level of hunger.

"Even before forces moved to Rafah, we were raising the alarm that every single person in Gaza was hungry and at least one-quarter of the population was starving, and that famine was imminent,” he said about the famine and the developments in Gaza under the Israeli attacks and blockade.

13:52 GMT — Israel to indict preacher of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque

Israel has said it will file an indictment against Sheikh Ekrima Sabri, the preacher of East Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque, for "incitement to terrorism."

A statement by the Israeli Justice Ministry said Sabri, 85, will be accused of inciting "terrorism" after offering condolences to families of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces.

The ministry said the decision was approved by Israel's Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara.

13:08 GMT — Israel's parliament backs Netanyahu's opposition to 'unilateral' creation of Palestinian state

Israel's parliament has voted to back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's declaration opposing the 'unilateral' creation of a Palestinian state, following growing international calls for the revival of efforts to reach a two-state solution to the decades-long conflict.

Netanyahu's Likud party said in a statement that 99 of 120 lawmakers voted to support the declaration passed earlier this week by the cabinet.

The Israeli position also says that any permanent accord with the Palestinians would have to be reached through direct negotiations between the sides, and not by international dictates.

At least 29,313 people have been killed in the besieged territory during Israel's war on Gaza. / Photo: AA

12:30 GMT — US backs Israeli offensive, calls on UN court to 'carefully calibrate' advice

The US delegation has backed Israel's military offensive in the occupied Palestinian territories and called on the International Court of Justice to "carefully calibrate" its advice.

The American representative, Richard Visek, mostly justified, during the public hearings at The Hague, Israel's military activities in the region, and said: "Any movement towards Israel withdrawal from the West Bank and Gaza requires consideration of Israel's very real security needs. We were all reminded of those security needs on October 7, and they persist."

He regretted that "those needs have been ignored by many of their participants in asserting how the court should consider the questions before it," and that the US position was questioned.

12:02 GMT — Woman, girl killed in Israeli strike on Lebanon: medical source

An Israeli air strike on south Lebanon has killed a woman and wounded her daughter, state media said, while a hospital source said a young girl had also died.

Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said that Khadija Salman was killed and her daughter seriously wounded in the "enemy" strike on the southern village of Majdal Zun.

Requesting anonymity, a hospital source confirmed the woman had died and her daughter remained in serious condition, adding that a young girl was also killed.

11:58 GMT — Palestinians face modern history's 'longest occupation' — Egypt

The Palestinian people have endured the "longest protracted occupation in modern history," Egypt told the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Speaking at a hearing at the Hague-based court on the legality of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian lands, Egyptian legal representative Jasmine Moussa said Palestinians have faced forced displacement, collective punishment, and random violence by the Israeli occupation.

She said Israeli violations against Palestinians were part of a "wider policy aimed at dispossessing Palestinians of their lands."

"For how much longer do the Palestinian people need to wait before they’re able to exercise their legitimate rights under international law?" Moussa asked.

11:26 GMT — Two civilians killed in Israeli air strike on residential building in Syria's capital: Report

Israeli fighter jets have targeted a residential building in the Syrian capital Damascus, killing two civilians and injuring another, according to regime-run SANA news agency.

It said that the air strike was carried out in the Kafr Sousa neighbourhood.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

11:24 GMT — Palestinian detainee dies in Israeli jail, the 9th since Oct. 7

A Palestinian detainee has died in an Israeli jail, Palestinian sources reported.

In a statement, the Commission of Detainees and Ex-Detainees Affairs and the Palestinian Prisoner Society confirmed that detainee Khaled Al Shawish, 53, who had been in a wheelchair, died in the Israeli Nafha prison.

The statement noted that Al Shawish was one of the detainees in Israeli jails who was suffering from a chronic disease, and in Israeli jail since 2007, and was sentenced to an 11-term life sentence.

Permanent Representative of US to the UN, Linda Thomas Greenfield (3rd L), votes against and vetoes the latest attempt at the UNSC to demand an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, February 20, 2024. / Photo: AA

09:27 GMT — Death toll exceeds 29,300 amid intense Israeli Gaza bombardment

The Palestinian health ministry in Gaza has said that at least 29,313 people have been killed in the besieged territory during Israel's war on Gaza.

A ministry statement said a total of 118 people were killed in the past 24 hours, while another 69,333 have been wounded since the invasion began on October 7.

Also Wednesday, the aid group Doctors Without Borders said that two people were killed when a shelter housing staff in Gaza was struck during an Israeli offensive in an area where Palestinians have been told to seek shelter.

“While details are still emerging, ambulance crews have now reached the site, where at least two family members of our colleagues have been killed and six people wounded. We are horrified by what has taken place," the group said in a post on X.

09:18 GMT — Israeli air strike target car, killing several Palestinians

At least six Palestinians were killed as a result of an Israeli air strike on their car in Deir al Balah city, central Gaza.

Eyewitnesses told Anadolu reporter that an Israeli warplane struck a civilian car while passing on "Abu Hosni" street, central Deir al Balah.

A medical source also told Anadolu that the Israeli air strike left six Palestinians killed, including five who were in the targeted car and one passer-by, in addition to a number of wounded people.

Meanwhile, Anadolu reporter added that the Israeli artillery has been shelling the eastern areas of Deir al Balah since the early hours of Wednesday.

09:14 GMT — US veto in truce vote makes Gaza 'even more dangerous' — China

China has warned that a US decision to veto a UN Security Council resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza pushed the conflict into an "even more dangerous" situation.

"China voted in favour of the draft resolution," foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning said.

"The United States has once again single-handedly vetoed it, pushing the situation in Gaza into an even more dangerous situation".

08:19 GMT — Several Israeli missiles hit Damascus: Syrian state media

Several Israeli missiles hit the Kafr Soussa district in Syria's capital Damascus, Syrian state media reported.

The neighbourhood is known to host several security agencies and was targeted in an Israeli attack in February 2023 that killed Iranian military experts.

Israel had no comment.

04:20 GMT — Yemen's Houthis targeted ship linked to humanitarian aid: US

Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi group targeted a ship linked to humanitarian aid, US Central Command (CENTCOM) said.

In a statement posted to X, CENTCOM said Houthis fired two anti-ship ballistic missiles at M/V Sea Champion, a Greek-flagged, US-owned bulk carrier bound for the port of Aden in Yemen.

Saying that one of the missiles detonated near the ship, causing minor damage, it added: "Nevertheless, her crew proceeded on course to their ultimate destination."

04:11 GMT — Israel attacks Doctors Without Borders' shelter in Gaza

Israel attacked a shelter belonging to medical charity Doctors Without Borders [MSF] in besieged Gaza, killing at least two people.

"Tonight, Israeli forces conducted an operation in Al Mawasi, Khan Younis, Gaza, where a shelter hosting MSF staff and their families was shelled," MSF said on X.

"While details are still emerging, ambulance crews have now reached the site, where at least two family members of our colleagues have been killed and six people wounded. We are horrified by what has taken place," it added.

03:15 GMT — Gaza's Nasser Hospital 'has become a place of death': UN

An official from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs [OCHA] expressed concern over the state of Nasser Hospital in the city of Khan Younis in the southern besieged Gaza.

"The conditions are appalling. There are dead bodies in the corridors. Patients are in a desperate situation," said Jonathan Whittall, senior humanitarian affairs officer at OCHA in the occupied Palestinian territory.

"This has become a place of death, not a place of healing," he added.

02:55 GMT — UN official says 'there needs to be an explanation on how the veto is used'

The five nations that hold veto power at the UN Security Council "have a great amount of responsibility," a UN official said after it failed to adopt a resolution on a humanitarian ceasefire in besieged Gaza.

"We know every time a permanent member of the Security Council vetoes, they now have to go and explain themselves in a sense in front of the [UN] General Assembly. This will happen again," Stephane Dujarric, the spokesperson for UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, said during his press briefing.

"The five countries that hold the veto have a great amount of responsibility, and I think there needs to be an explanation on how the veto is used," he added.

02:29 GMT — Israel has denied access to many planned aid missions to northern Gaza Strip: UN

Israel has denied access to more than half of the missions planned by the UN Agency for Palestinian Refugees [UNRWA] and its humanitarian partners to deliver aid in the northern besieged Gaza since the start of the year, the agency said.

''Since the start of 2024, 51 percent of the missions planned by UNRWA and humanitarian partners to deliver aid and undertake assessments to areas in north Gaza this year were denied access by Israeli authorities,'' the agency said on X.

''Food insecurity north of Wadi Gaza has reached an extremely critical state,'' it added.

02:00 GMT — US, Russia to speak on Israeli occupation at top UN court

The United States and Russia will present arguments on Wednesday in proceedings at the UN's highest court examining the legality of Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

More than 50 states will present arguments until February 26. Egypt and France were also scheduled to speak on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, 10 states, including South Africa, were overwhelmingly critical of Israel's conduct in the occupied territories, with many urging the court to declare the occupation illegal.

For our live updates from Tuesday, February 20, click here

TRT Afrika and agencies