A defiant Netanyahu says no one can stop Israel's war to crush Hamas, including the World Court

Rafah, Gaza Strip (AP) — Israel will continue its war against Hamas until it wins and will not be stopped by anyone, including the World Court, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a defiant speech Saturday, as fighting in Gaza neared 100. Day mark.

Netanyahu spoke after two days of hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague Allegations of South Africa One charge is that Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinians Israel has refused Slanderous and pretentious. South Africa asked the court to order Israel to temporarily halt its blistering and ground offensive.

“No one will stop us, not the hack, not the axis of evil, not anyone else,” Netanyahu said in televised remarks Saturday evening, referring to Iran and its allied militias.

The case before the World Court is expected to drag on for years, but a ruling on interim measures could come within weeks. Court rulings are binding but difficult to enforce. Netanyahu made it clear that Israel would ignore orders to stop fighting, potentially deepening its isolation.

Israel is under international pressure to end a war in Gaza that has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians. leading to widespread suffering In a besieged area, but so far protected US diplomatic and military support.

By the thousands They took to the streets On Saturday, Washington, London, Paris, Rome, Milan and Dublin called for an end to the war. Protesters gathered at the White House held aloft signs questioning President Joe Biden's credibility as a presidential candidate because of his staunch support for Israel during the war.

Israel argues that a victory for Hamas, the Islamist militant group that has ruled Gaza since 2007 and is bent on destroying Israel, would end the war.

War was provoked by a The deadly October 7 attack In which Hamas and other militants killed 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians. There were about 250 people Held hostage, and while some have been released or confirmed dead, more than half are believed to still be in captivity. Sunday marks 100 days of struggle.

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Fears of a wider outbreak have been palpable since the start of the war. New fronts quickly opened with Iran-backed groups – Houthi rebels in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Iran-backed militias In Iraq and Syria – conducts a variety of attacks. From the beginning, the US increased its military presence in the region.

Following the Houthi campaign of drones and missiles attacks The United States and Britain launched several airstrikes against the rebels on Friday, targeting merchant ships in the Red Sea, and the United States hit another base on Saturday.

As a result of the war, the World Court this week heard arguments on South Africa's complaint against Israel. South Africa cited rising death tolls and hardships among Gazans, along with provocative comments by Israeli leaders, as evidence of what it called genocidal intent.

In counterarguments on Friday, Israel asked that the case be dismissed as without merit. Israel's defense argued that the country had the right to fight a ruthless enemy, and that South Africa did not mention Hamas and ignored what Israel considered efforts to minimize civilian casualties.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu and his army chief, Herzl Halevi, said there were no immediate plans to allow displaced Palestinians to return to northern Gaza, the initial focus of Israel's offensive. Fighting has eased in the north, with forces now focused on the southern city of Khan Younis, although fighting continues in parts of the north.

Netanyahu said he raised the issue with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken during his visit earlier this week. “We will not send residents back (to their homes) while there is fighting,” the Israeli leader said he told Blinken.

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At the same time, Netanyahu said Israel must eventually close what it says are violations along the Gaza border with Egypt. During the years of the Israeli-Egyptian blockade, smuggling tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border became an important supply route to Gaza.

However, the border region, especially the town of Rafah in southern Gaza Filled with hundreds of thousands of Palestinians Refugees from northern Gaza and their presence will complicate any plans to expand Israel's ground offensive.

“We will not stop the war until we close this breach,” Netanyahu said Saturday, adding that the government had not yet decided how to do that.

In Gaza, Hamas has resisted Israel's blistering air and ground campaign, and the fighting has continued unabated.

The Gaza Ministry of Health Saturday said 135 Palestinians had been killed in the past 24 hours, bringing the war's total toll to 23,843. The number did not distinguish between combatants and civilians, but the ministry said two-thirds of the dead were women and children. The total number of people injured in the war has exceeded 60,000, the ministry said.

Video released by Gaza's Department of Civil Defense showed rescuers searching with flashlights through the twisted ruins of a building in Gaza City following an Israeli airstrike before dawn on Saturday.

Footage showed them carrying a young woman wrapped in blankets with facial injuries and at least two children who appeared to be dead. A boy, covered in dust, collapsed as he was loaded into an ambulance.

According to civil defense spokesman Mahmoud Bassal, at least 20 people were killed in the attack on the house in the Taraj neighborhood.

Another strike late Friday near the southern city of Rafah on the Egyptian border killed at least 13 people, including two children. The bodies of the slain, primarily from displaced families from central Gaza, were taken to the city's Abu Yusuf al-Najjar hospital, where they were viewed by an Associated Press reporter.

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Palestinian telecommunications company Jawwal said two of its employees were killed Saturday while trying to repair the network in Khan Yunis. Both were hit by shelling, their agency said. Jawwal said he has lost 13 employees since the war began.

Israel has blamed Hamas for most of the civilian casualties, saying its fighters use civilian buildings and launch attacks from densely populated urban areas.

The Israeli military released a video on Saturday showing the destruction of two ready-to-use rocket launchers at al-Muharraqa in central Gaza. A large palm trees and some houses can be seen in the frame. In the video, a rocket explodes and is thrown into the air. The army said it had dozens of launchers ready for use.

Since Israel's ground operation began in late October, 187 Israeli soldiers have been killed and 1,099 wounded in Gaza, the military said.

More than 85% of Gaza's 2.3 million population has migrated As a result of Israel's aerial and ground attack and vast terrain are equalized.

Less than half of the territory 36 hospitals According to OCHA, the United Nations agency for humanitarian affairs, some are still operating.

Amid already acute shortages of food, clean water and fuel in Gaza, OCHA said in its daily report that Israel's strict restrictions and open denials of humanitarian work have increased since the beginning of the year.

Only 21% of planned food, medicine, water and other supplies have reached northern Gaza, the agency said.

US and other international efforts are pushing Israel to do more to alleviate the suffering of Palestinian citizens met with little success.

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Magdy reported from Cairo. Mroue reports from Beirut.

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