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Israel pursues Rafah offensive; weather damages U.S.-built aid pier

German Press Agency

German Press Agency

TEL AVIV, Israel – Israel’s armed forces were active in the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip on Saturday, despite a call by the International Court of Justice for an immediate end to the military operation in Rafah.

Israeli soldiers killed several Palestinian gunmen who had previously fired at the Israelis, the army said. Further weapons caches and tunnel shafts were found in Rafah.

The Palestinian news agency Wafa reported that one civilian was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the city, which borders Egypt.

But as in previous days, the fighting in Gaza on Saturday centered on the refugee settlement of Jabalia in the north of the coastal strip.

According to the army, Israeli soldiers killed dozens of enemy fighters in the last 24 hours, partly in close combat and partly through targeted airstrikes.

None of the information could be independently verified.

On Friday, the ICJ ordered Israel to immediately end the military operation in Rafah, as part of a case brought by South Africa.

The ICJ, following earlier rulings this year on Gaza, ordered Israel to stop its actions in Rafah, citing the “disastrous” humanitarian conditions and “immense risk” to civilians.

Just over a week ago, the United States completed construction of a temporary pier off of the Gaza Strip for humanitarian supplies.

However, the U.S. Central Command reported on Saturday that high waves and stormy seas damaged it.

Four U.S. military ships “broke free from their moorings,” due to the swell, CENTCOM said. Two of the ships were now anchored on the beach near the pier. The other two were stranded off the Israeli coast near Ashkelon. The city is around 9 miles from Gaza.

The Israeli navy is helping to salvage all four ships, the statement said. U.S. soldiers would not enter Gaza.

There are no casualties and the pier is still operational.

Witnesses had previously reported that the makeshift harbor for aid transports was not in operation and that workers were busy repairing the damage. The Israeli television station N12 had reported that parts of the jetty had been swept to the coast near Ashdod by the strong current. The Israeli city is a good 19 miles from Gaza.

The maritime aid operation involves freighters initially bringing supplies from Cyprus to the floating platform. The goods are then loaded onto smaller ships that can sail closer to the coast. They dock at the temporary pier attached to the coast, where their cargoes are transferred to lorries.

Aid groups have welcomed the construction of the facility but point out that transport by land is much more efficient. According to them, however, Israel is obstructing access for aid deliveries by lorry at the borders it controls.

The war in Gaza was triggered by the unprecedented massacre of more than 1,200 people by terrorists from the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group and other militants on Oct. 7.

Israel responded with massive airstrikes and a ground offensive. The criticism of Israel has grown as the death toll among Palestinians has increased. It currently stands at over 35,000 people dead, according to Hamas authorities in Gaza.