Civilians displaced from northern Gaza will not be allowed back while war  continues: Netanyahu

Israel will not allow displaced residents of northern Gaza to return while the war is ongoing, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Saturday.

Netanyahu claimed the decision aligns with international law.

“You take civilians out of a war zone, and you don’t bring them back while it’s still dangerous,” the Israeli prime minister added.

Almost 90% of Palestinians in Gaza have been forcibly displaced due to Israel’s war on Hamas, according to the main United Nations agency working in the strip.

Palestinian leaders have vowed not to allow the war to permanently remove Gazans from their homes in the territory, as regional leaders have warned the conflict could have that result.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made clear to the Israeli government during a recent visit that it must allow Palestinians to return home “as soon as conditions allow”.

Netanyahu also stated the border between Egypt and Gaza must be closed before Israel’s war with Hamas is finished.

During a news briefing marking Israel’s 100th day of war with Hamas, Netanyahu stressed that Israel can’t finish the war until the closure of the Philadelphi Corridor, a 14-kilometer (roughly 8.6-mile) strip of land that serves as the border between Egypt and Gaza.

“We’ll destroy Hamas, we’ll demilitarize Gaza, and military equipment and other deadly weapons will continue to enter this southern opening — so of course we need to close it,” Netanyahu continued.

There are different ways Israel can take over the corridor, but officials have not decided exactly how they would proceed with doing so, Netanyahu added, further emphasizing that the only decision they have made is that the crossing “must be closed”.

Following Netanyahu’s call for the closure of Egypt’s border with Gaza before the war ends, foreign ministry spokesperson Ahmed Abu Zeid stated Cairo remains in full control of its borders.

“Egypt fully controls its borders and controls it completely, and these issues are subject to legal and security agreements between the countries involved, so any talk on this matter is generally subject to scrutiny and is responded to with declared positions,” Abu Zeid said during an interview with Egyptian television channel Sada El-Balad on Saturday.

The foreign ministry spokesperson further reiterated Egypt’s role in the entry of humanitarian aid to Gaza through the Rafah border crossing, blaming Israel for hindering it.

“We have made it clear from day one that any decisions that hinder the entry of aid are essentially Israeli measures and it comes through various methods, including strictness in inspecting trucks, wasting a lot of time in the inspection process, prohibiting and obstructing the entry of medical aid, and obstructing the entry of journalists and officials,” he added.

Israel’s prime minister also vowed to continue the war in the Gaza Strip, regardless of the outcome of a genocide lawsuit filed against it by South Africa with the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

“We will continue the war in the Gaza Strip until we achieve all our objectives. The Hague and the axis of evil will not stop us,” Netanyahu told journalists, without clarifying what his meaning by “axis of evil”.

The health authority in the besieged enclave said in a statement on Saturday the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli attacks in Gaza since October 7 stands at 23,843.

More than 60,000 injuries have been recorded, the statement added.

The United Nations has warned that “there is no safe place in Gaza”.

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