South Africa’s ICJ genocide case against Israel over Gaza begins

Israeli military reports ongoing fighting in central, southern Gaza

The Israeli military said this morning it was carrying out operations in central and southern Gaza, and has killed a number of what it said were “terrorist operatives” in those areas.

In the central Al-Maghazi area, the IDF said it identified what it called “an armed terrorist cell,” which included three “terrorists” armed with assault rifles. It said an aircraft “thwarted” them as they were exiting a tunnel shaft.

Eight “terrorist operatives” were killed by sniper fire in the area, it added.

In the southern city of Khan Younis, the IDF said it killed seven “terrorists” and struck “terrorist infrastructure” from which it said anti-tank missiles were fired at its troops.

NBC News could not verify the details of the report or who the targets described by the IDF were.

Genocide case against Israel begins at the ICJ

South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice alleging genocide against Israel has begun. The court’s judges filed into the ICJ’s wood-paneled Great Hall of Justice and declared the proceedings open. 

South Africa will have three hours this to present its case, while Israel will defend itself for three hours Friday. It has denied the accusations and insists it works hard to avoid civilian casualties in Gaza.

Netanyahu insists he has no plans to occupy Gaza

In a rebuke against right-wing members of his own coalition government, Israel’s prime minister has said his country has no plans to occupy Gaza and replace its Palestinian population.

The comments come after the U.S. and others criticized suggestions by some of Netanyahu’s ministers that Gazans should be “voluntarily” resettled in other countries to make way for Israelis. International law experts say that this would not be voluntary if Gaza is made unlivable, warning it could constitute a war crime.

IDF soldiers in Khan Younis
Israeli soldiers take up positions during a ground operation in Khan Younis, Gaza yesterday.Ohad Zwigenberg / AP

Netanyahu spoke on the eve of Israel defending itself against accusations of genocide at the United Nations’ top court, the International Court of Justice.

“I want to make a few points absolutely clear: Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population,” Netanyahu said in an English-language video message released last night. “Our goal is to rid Gaza of Hamas terrorists and free our hostages,” he said. “Once this is achieved Gaza can be demilitarized and deradicalized, thereby creating a possibility for a better future for Israel and Palestinians alike.” 

Florida welcomes students fleeing campus antisemitism, with little evidence that there’s demand

ORLANDO, Fla. — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis this week directed the state’s universities to make it easier for out-of-state students facing antisemitism and other religious harassment in the wake of the Israel-Hamas war to transfer to Florida campuses.

DeSantis’ directive on Tuesday piggybacks on blowback some Ivy League leaders have faced in response to how they’re handling antisemitism and anti-Israel protests on their campuses. The governor’s office said there has been an increase in inquiries about transferring, without providing any numbers to back that up.

“With leaders of so-called elite universities enabling antisemitic activities, rather than protecting their students from threats and harassment, it is understandable that many Jewish students are looking for alternatives and looking to Florida,” DeSantis, who is campaigning for the 2024 GOP presidential nomination, said in a statement.

The order referred to all students facing religious harassment, and when asked if it included Muslims, Christians and others, a spokeswoman for the board governing Florida’s university systems said Wednesday it covers any student fearful of religious persecution following the Oct. 7 Hamas attack on Israel. However, neither she nor the governor’s office said how many students had made inquiries about transferring.

Democratic state Sen. Lori Berman said she knows of Florida students at Harvard who are concerned about antisemitism on campus, but has also heard from a student at the University of South Florida in Tampa, adding that antisemitism is a problem in many places and DeSantis’ directive is doing little to prevent it.

“It’s kind of interesting that we’re offering our Florida schools when I’m not sure that our Florida schools are any different than what’s going on elsewhere in the nation,” said Berman, who is Jewish.

The lawmaker from South Florida also noted there have been Nazi and antisemitic demonstrations and activities in Florida that DeSantis has said little about.

Israel showing few signs of winding down war in Gaza

Israel is showing few signs of winding down the war against Hamas, whose leader in Gaza is still at large. NBC News traveled to Beirut, Lebanon, where a senior Hamas leader was killed in an Israeli drone strike. We spoke to a local store owner who was working next to the apartment that was targeted, saying he never saw anyone living there.

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