Live updates | UN top court will hear genocide allegation as Israel focuses fighting in central Gaza

The United Nations’ top court begins hearings Thursday for South Africa’s allegation that Israel’s war with Hamas amounts to genocide against Palestinians. Israel strongly denies the claim. Although the case is likely to take years to resolve, South Africa is asking the International Court of Justice to order an immediate suspension of Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli military operations in Gaza have lately focused on the southern city of Khan Younis and urban refugee camps in the territory’s center. Hundreds of people have been killed in recent days in strikes across the territory, including in areas of the far south where Israel told people to seek refuge.

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been meeting with leaders across the Mideast, seeking to rally the region behind postwar plans for Gaza. Blinken spoke with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday about a reformed Palestinian Authority governing Gaza once the war is over. Blinken then flew to Manama, the capital of the tiny Gulf nation of Bahrain.

The Oct. 7 Hamas attack from Gaza into southern Israel that triggered the war killed around 1,200 people and saw some 250 others taken hostage by militants. Israel’s air, ground and sea assault in Gaza has killed more than 23,000 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. The count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.


— The U.N.’s top court opens hearings on South Africa’s allegation that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.

— Blinken seeks Palestinian governance reform for postwar Gaza.

— The Israeli military says it found traces of hostages in an underground tunnel in Gaza.

— Nelson Mandela’s support for Palestinians endures with South Africa’s genocide case against Israel.

— Find more of AP‘s coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here’s what’s happening in the war:


TEL AVIV, Israel — State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller says accusations that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are unfounded, hours before the International Court of Justice in The Hague begins to hear South Africa’s case against Israel.

Miller said late Wednesday that the court “plays a vital role in the peaceful settlement of disputes,” but he said Israel had the right to defend itself and said it was Israel’s enemies who were calling for the “mass murder of Jews.”

Miller reiterated the United States’ support for Israel in its war while calling for more ways to protect civilians, and for Israel to abide by international humanitarian law. He also condemned inflammatory rhetoric on all sides.

In its court filing, South Africa cited incendiary remarks from Israeli leaders and military officials as an indication of intent to commit genocide.


BEIRUT — A Palestinian journalist who was detained by the Israeli military in Gaza in December described the experience as the “worst 33 days of my life.” Diaa al-Kahlout, a reporter for the Arabic-language Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, said in an interview Thursday with his network that he was detained with around 100 men, including several relatives, who were sheltering in the northern town of Beit Lahiya.

He says the soldiers accused them of being members of Hamas and forced them to strip to their underwear. He says he was questioned about an article he wrote in 2018 about a botched Israeli military operation in Gaza, calling it a “distressing experience.” Those detained included boys as young as 16 and a 77-year-old man apparently suffering from dementia, according to al-Kahlout. He says they were held at the Zikim military base north of Gaza and were forced to sit “on their knees” for the first 25 days.


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