Gaza death toll surpasses 35,300 as ICJ hears genocide case

The Hague/ Gaza/ Jerusalem   -  Israeli strikes killed at least 31 people and injured 56 in Gaza over the past 24 hours, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health in the strip on Friday.

The death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7 has now surpassed 35,300, with 79,261 injuries, the ministry added. Earlier Friday morning, civil defense officials and local journalists said that Israeli strikes on the enclave had killed at least 10 people and wounded others. At the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday, Israel responded to a public emergency hearing called for by South Africa, accusing Israel of violating the 1946 Genocide Convention by dismissing its claims.

“This case, even by its very name… suggests an inversion of reality… and the obscene exploitation of the most sacred convention… calling something a genocide again and again doesn’t make it genocide. Repeating a lie does not make it true,” Israel’s Deputy Attorney General for International Law Gilad Noam said in his opening remarks.

Noam said the picture South Africa has been painting over the last five months is “completely divorced from the facts and circumstances.” He spoke of the “difficult and tragic armed conflict” Israel is engaged in, asking the court to “respect the predicament” it is in.

“Armed conflict is not synonymous to genocide,” he said.

He said that Israel was surprised by South Africa’s emergency hearing notification and requested a postponement to ensure adequate representation. However, the court denied this request.

South Africa told the ICJ on Thursday that Rafah is the last refuge for civilians in Gaza. In response, Noam stated that while civilians have been evacuated to Rafah, it is also a “focal point for ongoing terrorist activity.”

South Africa told the court on Thursday that “if Rafah falls, so too does Gaza,” to which Israel said the opposite is true.

He accused South Africa of “exploiting the court and its authority” with its “baseless claims” and “evidence that does not exist,” saying “not every media report represents facts.”

Israel’s military recovers bodies of 3 hostages in tunnel in Gaza, according to spokespers

US military says first aid delivered to Gaza via temporary pier

The US military said aid deliveries began Friday via a temporary pier in Gaza aimed at ramping up emergency humanitarian assistance to the war-ravaged Palestinian territory.

“Today at approximately 9 am (0600 GMT), trucks carrying humanitarian assistance began moving ashore via a temporary pier in Gaza,” the US Central Command said in a statement, adding that no US troops went ashore.  

“This is an ongoing, multinational effort to deliver additional aid to Palestinian civilians in Gaza via a maritime corridor that is entirely humanitarian in nature,” it said.   

The pier was successfully anchored on Thursday, with around 500 tonnes of aid expected to enter the Palestinian territory in the coming days. 

Photographs released by CENTCOM showed humanitarian aid being lifted onto a barge in the nearby Israeli port of Ashdod. 

Britain said Friday that an aid shipment had been successfully delivered to Gaza using the temporary pier, vowing to send more in the coming weeks. 

The aid, which included more than 8,000 temporary shelters, was sent from Larnaca port in Cyprus. 

France said Friday that a ship carrying 60 tonnes of aid from Cyprus was being unloaded on the temporary pier, with further deliveries planned in the next weeks.

The Palestinian territory is facing famine after an Israeli siege brought dire shortages of food as well as safe water, medicines and fuel for its 2.4 million people.

The arrival of occasional aid convoys has slowed to a trickle since Israeli forces took control last week of the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing from Egypt.

The UN has said that opening up land crossing points and allowing more truck convoys into Gaza is the only way to stem the spiralling humanitarian crisis.            

But it welcomed the deliveries on Friday and said it had agreed to support the distribution of aid into Gaza from the floating dock.          

The Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s October 7 attack on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s devastating military retaliation has killed at least 35,272 people, mostly civilians, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

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