The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday requested arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and three Hamas leaders for alleged crimes against humanity, in the eighth month of the devastating war in Gaza strip.

Prosecutor Karim Khan said in a statement that he had requested arrest warrants for Mr Netanyahu and his Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, for crimes including “deliberate starvation of civilians”, “intentional homicide” and “extermination and/or murder.”

“We affirm that the crimes against humanity referred to in the requests were part of a widespread and systematic attack directed against the Palestinian civilian population (…)”, affirmed Mr. Khan in reference to MM. Netanyahu and Gallant.

Accusations against Hamas leaders, including Yahya Sinouar, the leader of the Palestinian movement in Gaza, include “extermination,” “rape and other forms of sexual violence” and “taking hostages as war crime”.

The war was triggered by an attack by Hamas movement commandos infiltrated from the Gaza Strip in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP report established in from official Israeli data. Of the 252 people then taken as hostages, 125 are still detained in Gaza, including 37 dead according to the army.

Israel has vowed to destroy Hamas, which took power in Gaza in 2007 and which it considers terrorist, along with the United States and the European Union.

Its army launched intense bombardments by air, land and sea against Gaza, which it besieged, followed by a ground offensive, resulting in the deaths of at least 35,562 people, most of them civilians, including 106 in the last 24 hours. according to data Monday from the Health Ministry of the Hamas-led Gaza government.

The military operations have also caused a humanitarian catastrophe with the majority of the approximately 2.4 million inhabitants threatened with famine and more than half displaced, according to the UN.

– “Killed in our sleep” –
On Monday, Israeli army fighter jets and helicopters carried out new strikes on the Gaza Strip, where ground fighting is also taking place between soldiers and Palestinian armed groups.

In the northern Gaza Strip, the air force bombed the eponymous town as well as the Jabalia refugee camp, where fighting continues after calls for civilians to evacuate.

In the south of the small, overpopulated Palestinian territory, a strike hit a house in the Tal al-Sultan neighborhood in western Rafah, killing three and wounding eight, according to hospital sources. Rafah was also targeted by Israeli naval fire, witnesses said.

“Our situation is lamentable: we are killed in our homes in our sleep, civilians, including children and women, die and no one cares about us,” laments Obeid Khafaja, a resident of Tal al-Sultan.

– “The duty” –
The army has intensified its ground operations, mainly in eastern Rafah, backed by the closed border with Egypt, saying it wants to reduce the last Hamas battalions there.

According to the army, soldiers conduct “targeted raids against terrorist infrastructure, eliminate the enemy and locate tunnel openings.”

While receiving White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan in Tel Aviv, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant insisted on “Israel's duty to expand the ground operation in Rafah, to dismantle the Hamas and bring back the hostages”, despite the opposition of many capitals and organizations to a major ground operation in Rafah.

Since the Israeli order to evacuate the eastern districts of Rafah on May 6, on the eve of the entry of its tanks into this sector, “approximately half of the population of Gaza” with 2.4 million inhabitants , was “forced to flee” again, said Sunday Philippe Lazzarini, the head of Unrwa, the UN agency for Palestinian refugees. “There is absolutely no safe place in the Gaza Strip,” he said.

“The question that haunts us is where will we go? Now everyone is wondering how to satisfy their food needs and how to escape death,” said Rafah resident Sarhan Abou al-Saïd.

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