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The Latest | Israel must stop Rafah offensive and open border for aid, UN court rules

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The Latest | Israel must stop Rafah offensive and open border for aid, UN court rules
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The Latest | Israel must stop Rafah offensive and open border for aid, UN court rules

2024-05-25 08:29 Last Updated At:08:30

The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to end its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and to open the nearby border crossing for crucial humanitarian aid. The top United Nations court also said Israel must give war crimes investigators access to Gaza.

However, the judges stopped short of ordering a full cease-fire across the entire Palestinian territory, and Israel is unlikely to comply with the court's ruling. South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians during the Gaza war, which Israel vehemently denies.

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Israeli military vehicles drive in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The International Court of Justice on Friday ordered Israel to end its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and to open the nearby border crossing for crucial humanitarian aid. The top United Nations court also said Israel must give war crimes investigators access to Gaza.

Hundreds of Palestinians march to call on Arab states to intervene to save the Gaza Strip, in a protest organized by the Hizb ut-Tahrir party in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, May 24, 2024. The march came as a response to the ongoing Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, which has caused significant civilian casualties. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Hundreds of Palestinians march to call on Arab states to intervene to save the Gaza Strip, in a protest organized by the Hizb ut-Tahrir party in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, May 24, 2024. The march came as a response to the ongoing Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, which has caused significant civilian casualties. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

An Israeli soldier works on a tank near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli soldier works on a tank near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A lone demonstrator waves the Palestinian flag outside the Peace Palace, rear, housing the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024. The top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A lone demonstrator waves the Palestinian flag outside the Peace Palace, rear, housing the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024. The top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A man looks at a poster of Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30, second left, who was killed on Oct. 7, 2023, next to posters of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in central Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. The bodies of Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, three hostages killed on Oct 7, were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

A man looks at a poster of Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30, second left, who was killed on Oct. 7, 2023, next to posters of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in central Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. The bodies of Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, three hostages killed on Oct 7, were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, wait for judges to enter the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024, where the top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, wait for judges to enter the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024, where the top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

An Israeli female soldier sits atop a tank in a staging area near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli female soldier sits atop a tank in a staging area near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Palestinian women weep for loved ones, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinian women weep for loved ones, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Mourners pray over the bodies of Palestinians, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Mourners pray over the bodies of Palestinians, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

The flags of Spain, Ireland, and Norway are displayed on the City Hall building in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after the three countries announced this week that they would recognize Palestinian statehood, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The flags of Spain, Ireland, and Norway are displayed on the City Hall building in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after the three countries announced this week that they would recognize Palestinian statehood, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli and American activists block the entrance to the U.S. Consulate building that houses the Palestinian Affairs Unit, calling for the United States to stop providing arms to Israel for the war in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Israeli and American activists block the entrance to the U.S. Consulate building that houses the Palestinian Affairs Unit, calling for the United States to stop providing arms to Israel for the war in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

The bodies of Palestinians are moved to their burial, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

The bodies of Palestinians are moved to their burial, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

A Palestinian man walks past burning tires during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A Palestinian man walks past burning tires during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A boy plays with his ball next to debris of a heavily damaged building after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A boy plays with his ball next to debris of a heavily damaged building after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some are draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some are draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinians mourns over the body of the doctor Ossayed Kamal Jabareen, at the government hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians mourns over the body of the doctor Ossayed Kamal Jabareen, at the government hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Gunmen march as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Gunmen march as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza hold photos of their loved ones during a performance calling for their return in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza hold photos of their loved ones during a performance calling for their return in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a building after Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that killed and wounded multiple Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said its fighters battled the Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a building after Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that killed and wounded multiple Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said its fighters battled the Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

After being blindfolded, a Palestinian man is detained by Israeli forces during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

After being blindfolded, a Palestinian man is detained by Israeli forces during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A girl looks out from a window of a building damaged by shrapnels after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A girl looks out from a window of a building damaged by shrapnels after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A gunman holds up his weapon as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, with some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags, during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A gunman holds up his weapon as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, with some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags, during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

This combo from photos provided by Hostages Families Forum Headquarters shows from left, Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30. The bodies of three more hostages killed on Oct 7. were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24, 2024. (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

This combo from photos provided by Hostages Families Forum Headquarters shows from left, Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30. The bodies of three more hostages killed on Oct 7. were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24, 2024. (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

In the past two weeks, more than a million Palestinians fled Rafah as Israeli forces pressed deeper into the city. People displaced by fighting lack shelter, food, water and other essentials for survival, the U.N. says. Israel says it needs to invade Rafah to destroy Hamas militants’ last stronghold.

Egypt said Friday it agreed to send U.N. humanitarian aid trucks through the Kerem Shalom border crossing, Israel’s main entry point into southern Gaza. But it remains unclear if the trucks will be able to enter because fighting still rages in Rafah.

Israeli bombardments and ground offensives in Gaza have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to the Health Ministry, which doesn’t distinguish between combatants and civilians.

Israel launched its war in Gaza after Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack in which militants stormed into southern Israel, killed about 1,200 people — mostly civilians — and abducted about 250. Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

Currently:

— Egypt agrees to send aid trucks through Israeli crossing to Gaza, but impact is unclear.

— Top U.N. court orders Israel to halt military operation in Rafah, although Israel is unlikely to comply.

— How does this end? With Hamas holding firm and fighting back in Gaza, Israel faces only bad options.

— U.N. Security Council approves resolution decrying attacks on the U.N. and aid workers.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Gaza at https://apnews.com/hub/israel-hamas-war.

Here's the latest:

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations says that after “a rocky start” the operation to deliver aid that arrived from a U.S.-built pier is stabilized and 97 trucks made it to the World Food Program warehouse though some had been looted.

U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters Friday that the looting – which he called hungry people self-distributing aid – took place in the first two day.

The first aid transported by sea that used the U.S. floating dock arrived on Friday. But on Saturday, 11 of the 16 trucks in an aid convoy were stripped of food and other humanitarian items enroute to a U.N. World Food Program warehouse in Deir Al-Balah.

Operations were halted on Sunday and Monday but resumed Tuesday and Dujarric said WFP found various other routes to get to the warehouse, where 97 trucks have arrived. No trucks were lost, he stressed.

From the warehouse, he said, WFP has notified U.N. agencies, non-U.N. agencies and international humanitarian organizations that the goods can be picked up for delivery to needy Palestinians. Some food has also been sent to large feeding kitchens, he said.

“I think the operation is very much stabilized,” Dujarric said.

But he stressed that deliveries via the U.S. floating dock, while helpful, cannot replace what the U.N. wants to see – massive aid coming into Gaza through land routes.

The Rafah crossing from Egypt to southern Gaza, which was a key transit point fur fuel and food for the territory, has been shut since Israel started a military operation in the southern city, and Dujarric has said only limited aid is getting in through other crossings.

After seven months of war, all 2.3 million people of Gaza are struggling to get food, according to aid groups, with the heads of the WFP and the U.S. Agency for International Development saying famine has begun in northern Gaza.

UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations chief “trusts” that Israel will comply with the International Court of Justice’s orders as required by the U.N. Charter and the court’s statute, the U.N. spokesman said.

The court on Friday ordered Israel to halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah and open the border crossing there for desperately needed humanitarian aid, as well as allow access to Gaza for war crimes investigators.

Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also trusts that the other “parties” – a reference to Hamas and other militant groups – will implement the court's repeated call for the immediate and unconditional release of hostages seized in the Oct. 7 attack, spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Friday.

“The secretary-general has no crystal ball,” Dujarric told reporters. But all U.N. member states have a duty to follow Security Council decisions and court orders, he said. “Whether or not they choose to do so is a question you need to ask them.”

The court’s orders were issued in the case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Guterres noted the ICJ called for the immediate implementation of the court's orders on Jan. 26 to Israel, which include taking “all measures within its power” to prevent the commission of genocide, and to enable the urgent deliver of aid, Dujarric said.

In accordance with the ICJ statute, he said the secretary-general is transmitting the court’s provisional measures to the U.N. Security Council.

“The only way things will get easier for the U.N. is if we see an end to the military action, we see a humanitarian cease-fire, we see the creation of an environment in which we can have unfettered humanitarian access, and during which all the hostages can be released,” Dujarric said.

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military announced Friday that it killed what it described as a Hamas deputy commander in Gaza.

The military said Friday that Diaa al-Din al-Sharafa was killed in a strike a day earlier, and had been “responsible for overseeing the forces that secured the Gaza Strip’s borders.”

Al-Sharafa was the deputy commander of the police’s National Security department, the civilian police force operated by the Hamas-run Interior Ministry. He was not a commander of the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas.

The Interior Ministry had reported on Thursday that al-Sharafa was killed while he in the center of Gaza City in the territory's north. The statement said four other officers accompanying him were wounded.

JERUSALEM — The government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says accusations it is committing a genocide in Gaza are "false, outrageous and morally repugnant.”

“Israel has not and will not conduct military actions in the Rafah area which may inflict on the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part,” Netanyahu's government said Friday.

The statement came in response to the International Court of Justice ruling that ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah and allow the entry of desperately needed humanitarian aid for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

The amount of U.N. aid entering the Gaza Strip has dropped dramatically since Israel launched its offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah on May 6.

CAIRO — Egypt says it has agreed to send humanitarian aid trucks and fuel through Israel’s Kerem Shalom crossing into Gaza for the United Nations, after a call between President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi and U.S. President Joe Biden.

The agreement aims to reverse a dramatic drop in U.N. aid entering the Gaza Strip since Israel launched its offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah on May 6. Whether it will do so remains unclear, as U.N. officials say they are largely unable to reach the Kerem Shalom crossing to pick up the aid that enters, because fighting in the area makes it too dangerous.

Egypt had halted cooperation with Israel on entry of aid into Gaza after Israeli troops seized the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt during its offensive. Egypt says Palestinian officials must be put back in charge of Rafah crossing. Most humanitarian aid for Gaza comes from Egypt, and most of that was previously flowing on trucks through Rafah.

In a statement Friday, el-Sissi’s office said he had spoken by phone with Biden and agreed to temporarily send trucks carrying humanitarian aid and fuel for the United Nations to the Kerem Shalom crossing. It said Rafah crossing would not be reactivated until a legal framework is found.

The White House has become increasingly frustrated with Egypt over the aid issue and U.S. official have conveyed to Egypt that more aid should be flowing through Kerem Shalom, according to a senior administration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the matter.

The U.N., however, has said it can rarely reach Kerem Shalom to pick up the entering aid because of the untenable security situation. Commercial trucks have continued to flow through the crossing, bringing food and other supplies for sale in Gaza markets.

Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani contributed.

UNITED NATIONS — The Palestinian U.N. ambassador, speaking on behalf of Arab nations, said they expect Friday’s ruling by the top U.N. court “to be implemented without hesitation – that’s mandatory.”

Riyad Mansour told U.N. journalists that Israel is a party to the International Court of Justice and a signatory to the Genocide Convention, “and the convention is crystal clear on this issue.”

“Israel has to abide by the decisions and the demands from the ICJ,” he said.

Under the U.N. Charter all U.N. member nations, including Israel, are parties to the International Court of Justice and must implement its rulings in cases to which they are a party. South Africa brought the case to the ICJ under the Genocide Convention accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

Surrounded by ambassadors from Arab nations, Mansour welcomed the court’s provisional measures including demanding a halt to Israel’s military offensive in Gaza’s southern city of Rafah and the opening of Gaza's crossing with Egypt to provide desperately needed humanitarian aid to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians.

He said the 22-member Arab group at the United Nations will do everything possible with the 120-member Nonaligned Movement, African nations and others to see the implementation of U.N. Security Council and General Assembly resolutions and ICJ rulings that among other things call for an immediate cease-fire in Gaza.

This is critical to save lives “and to allow our people to start attending to the wounds inflicted upon them by this aggression of Israel,” Mansour said.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — Hundreds of Palestinians participated in an Islamist march in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah on Friday, calling on Muslim nations to militarily intervene to end to Israel’s war in Gaza.

Demonstrators carried banners demanding action to liberate the Palestinian territories.

“This is a call to the Islamic nation to take action. It has the power, capability, and military forces necessary,” said Youssef Abu Zir, a member of the media team of the Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir which organized the protest.

“This destructive war must be stopped through the same force, through military action,” he said.

Also Friday, a group of Israeli and international protesters chained themselves to the gate of the U.S. office of Palestinian affairs in Jerusalem in protest of the Gaza war. Activists said that the police arrested seven demonstrators out of the few dozen present.

Videos posted to social media showed the police pushing protesters back and muscling demonstrators into squad cars. The police did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

JERUSALEM — Benny Gantz, one of three members of Israel’s War Cabinet, indicated his country’s military won’t change its conduct in Rafah despite an order from the top U.N. court to halt the widening offensive there.

Gantz’s comments Friday were Israel’s most senior reaction to the International Court of Justice ruling, as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not make an immediate public response.

Gantz said Israel “set out on a just and necessary campaign following the brutal massacre of its citizens,” which includes the sending troops into Rafah. Israel portrays the southern city as the last Hamas stronghold.

“We will continue operating in accordance with international law wherever we might operate, while safeguarding to the best extent possible the civilian population,” Gantz said. “Not because of the ICJ, but because of who we are and the values we stand for.”

The world court does not have a police force to enforce its orders, meaning Israel is unlikely to comply.

The court also ordered Israel to reopen the Rafah border crossing. But it did not call for a full cease-fire throughout Gaza as South Africa, which brought the case, requested at hearings last week.

CAPE TOWN, South Africa — South Africa welcomed the top U.N. court’s order for Israel to stop its offensive in southern Gaza, and said it’s up to the U.N. Security Council to take action to enforce the ruling and alleviate the dire humanitarian situation.

Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said the International Court of Justice put forth a “much stronger” set of provisional measures on Friday which were a “very clear call for a cessation.” In an interview with state broadcaster SABC, she said South Africa’s allegation that a genocide is taking place is getting “stronger and stronger by the day.”

She said the U.N. Security Council has the responsibility to now determine measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza.

“We are all seeing the horror unfold and something needs to be done. And we cannot just rely on those who are the executioners of this ongoing onslaught to be the ones to stop it,” she said.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The top United Nations court has ordered Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah — but stopped short of ordering a full cease-fire.

Although Israel is unlikely to comply with Friday’s order, it will ratchet up the pressure on the increasingly isolated country. Criticism of Israel’s conduct in the war in Gaza has been growing, particularly on operations in Rafah.

It has even come from its closest ally, the United States. This week alone, three European countries announced they would recognize a Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor for another U.N. court requested arrest warrants for Israeli leaders and Hamas officials.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also under heavy pressure at home to end the war.

While the ruling by the International Court of Justice is a blow to Israel’s international standing, the court does not have a police force to enforce its orders. In another case on its docket, Russia has so far ignored a 2022 order by the court to halt its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

PARIS — French President Emmanuel Macron will host Qatar’s prime minister and other officials from Arab nations for talks on the Middle East on Friday, his office said.

It says the meeting at the presidential Elysee Palace will include, along with Qatar’s prime minister, the foreign ministers of Egypt, Jordan, Saudia Arabia, and France. It says they’ll be discussing the Middle East but gave no details

Meanwhile in Washington, a U.S. official said CIA Director Bill Burns is meeting in Paris with Israelis and Qataris in informal talks aimed at getting hostage and cease-fire negotiations back on track, a U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the meetings.

The official gave no time for the discussions.

Burns is in close contact with Egyptian officials, the official said. The Qataris and Egyptians are serving as mediators with Hamas officials, who are not taking part in person in the talks.

__Associated Press writer Ellen Knickmeyer contributed to this report.

BERLIN — Germany pressed Israel and Hamas on Friday to urgently allow the entry and distribution of more humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

German Foreign Ministry spokesperson Christian Wagner said the situation in Gaza was “catastrophic and disastrous.”

“The Isreali government has stressed repeatedly that it wants to flood Gaza with humanitarian aid. Honestly speaking, that is not visible at the moment and that must urgently change,” Wagner said at a government news conference.

“For this, it is essential that more border crossings are opened,” he said. “It is also essential to secure the distribution of humanitarian assistance in Gaza. Hamas also has a responsibility here as well as the Israeli army.”

Wagner said it was important to obtain the release of the Israeli hostages held by Hamas and to keep open the prospect of a political solution to the conflict.

Later Friday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz reiterated that demand and said that “the terror organization Hamas must finally release all the remaining hostages and agree to a long-term cease-fire."

“At the same time, Israel must finally secure humanitarian supplies for the desperate people in Gaza,” he added. "Four hundred to five hundred truckloads of aid is needed every day, and it is the responsibility of the Israeli government to ensure that these deliveries arrive.”

Germany, a staunch ally of Israel, supports a revival of talks that could lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. It has so far ruled out joining Norway, Ireland and Spain in recognizing Palestinian statehood, arguing that such a step should be part of the political process.

TEL AVIV, Israel — The bodies of three more hostages killed on Oct 7. were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel’s army said Friday, as the country braces for the top United Nations court to rule on whether Israel must halt its military operations and withdraw from the enclave.

The bodies of Hanan Yablonka, Michel Nisenbaum, and Orion Hernandez Radoux were found and their families have been notified. The army said they were killed on the day of the attack at the Mefalsim intersection and their bodies were taken to Gaza.

The announcement comes less than a week after the army said it found the bodies of three other Israeli hostages killed on Oct. 7.

Hamas-led militants killed around 1,200 people, mainly civilians, and abducted around 250 others in the Oct. 7 attack. Around half of those hostages have since been freed, most in swaps for Palestinian prisoners held by Israel during a weeklong cease-fire in November.

Israel says around 100 hostages are still captive in Gaza, along with the bodies of around 30 more.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — The top United Nations court is ruling Friday on an urgent plea by South Africa to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave.

Israel is unlikely to comply with any such order. Even so, a cease-fire order by judges of the International Court of Justice would heap more pressure on an increasingly isolated Israel as it continues its military assault on Gaza following the deadly Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas-led militants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also under heavy pressure at home to end the war. Thousands of Israelis have joined weekly demonstrations calling on the government to reach a deal to bring home Israeli hostages in Hamas captivity, fearing that time is running out.

The International Court of Justice has broad powers to order a cease-fire and other measures, but it does not have its own enforcement apparatus.

Friday’s ruling comes just days after the prosecutor of another court in The Hague, the International Criminal Court, announced he is seeking arrest warrants for Netanyahu, as well as Israel’s defense minister and three Hamas leaders.

UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations Security Council is scheduled to vote Friday on a resolution that strongly condemns attacks on humanitarian workers and U.N. personnel. It also demands that all combatants protect them in accordance with international law.

The Swiss-sponsored resolution expresses grave concern at the growing number of attacks and threats against U.N. and humanitarian personnel and the disregard for and violations of international humanitarian law by combatants. Switzerland’s U.N. Ambassador Pascale Baeriswyl told The Associated Press on Thursday that the resolution is about protecting those who are putting their lives at risk to help people affected by armed conflict.

The draft resolution does not single out any conflict and is being voted on as battles rage in Gaza, Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar and many other hotspots around the world.

It is the seven-month war in Gaza, however, that has seen the greatest number of attacks on U.N. and humanitarian personnel. Over 190 U.N. staff have been killed, a death toll unprecedented in the United Nations’ nearly 80-year history, according to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.

Israeli military vehicles drive in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Israeli military vehicles drive in the Gaza Strip as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Hundreds of Palestinians march to call on Arab states to intervene to save the Gaza Strip, in a protest organized by the Hizb ut-Tahrir party in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, May 24, 2024. The march came as a response to the ongoing Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, which has caused significant civilian casualties. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Hundreds of Palestinians march to call on Arab states to intervene to save the Gaza Strip, in a protest organized by the Hizb ut-Tahrir party in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Friday, May 24, 2024. The march came as a response to the ongoing Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, which has caused significant civilian casualties. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

An Israeli soldier works on a tank near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli soldier works on a tank near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A lone demonstrator waves the Palestinian flag outside the Peace Palace, rear, housing the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024. The top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A lone demonstrator waves the Palestinian flag outside the Peace Palace, rear, housing the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024. The top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

A man looks at a poster of Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30, second left, who was killed on Oct. 7, 2023, next to posters of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in central Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. The bodies of Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, three hostages killed on Oct 7, were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

A man looks at a poster of Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30, second left, who was killed on Oct. 7, 2023, next to posters of hostages held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, in central Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. The bodies of Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, three hostages killed on Oct 7, were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Destroyed buildings in the Gaza Strip, as seen from southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, wait for judges to enter the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024, where the top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, wait for judges to enter the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, May 24, 2024, where the top United Nations court was to rule on an urgent plea by South Africa for judges to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza and withdraw from the enclave. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

An Israeli female soldier sits atop a tank in a staging area near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

An Israeli female soldier sits atop a tank in a staging area near the Gaza border in southern Israel, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

Palestinian women weep for loved ones, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinian women weep for loved ones, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Mourners pray over the bodies of Palestinians, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Mourners pray over the bodies of Palestinians, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at their funeral at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

The flags of Spain, Ireland, and Norway are displayed on the City Hall building in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after the three countries announced this week that they would recognize Palestinian statehood, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The flags of Spain, Ireland, and Norway are displayed on the City Hall building in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after the three countries announced this week that they would recognize Palestinian statehood, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israeli and American activists block the entrance to the U.S. Consulate building that houses the Palestinian Affairs Unit, calling for the United States to stop providing arms to Israel for the war in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

Israeli and American activists block the entrance to the U.S. Consulate building that houses the Palestinian Affairs Unit, calling for the United States to stop providing arms to Israel for the war in the Gaza Strip, in Jerusalem, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

The bodies of Palestinians are moved to their burial, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

The bodies of Palestinians are moved to their burial, a day after they were killed by Israeli bombardment, at Al Aqsa Hospital in Deir al Balah, Friday, May 24, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

A Palestinian man walks past burning tires during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A Palestinian man walks past burning tires during clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank city of Jenin, Wednesday, May 22, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A boy plays with his ball next to debris of a heavily damaged building after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A boy plays with his ball next to debris of a heavily damaged building after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some are draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some are draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Palestinians mourns over the body of the doctor Ossayed Kamal Jabareen, at the government hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians mourns over the body of the doctor Ossayed Kamal Jabareen, at the government hospital in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Gunmen march as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Gunmen march as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza hold photos of their loved ones during a performance calling for their return in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

Relatives and supporters of Israeli hostages held by Hamas in Gaza hold photos of their loved ones during a performance calling for their return in Tel Aviv, Israel, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)

A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a building after Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that killed and wounded multiple Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said its fighters battled the Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

A Palestinian man inspects the damage to a building after Israeli forces raided the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that killed and wounded multiple Palestinians, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group said its fighters battled the Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

After being blindfolded, a Palestinian man is detained by Israeli forces during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

After being blindfolded, a Palestinian man is detained by Israeli forces during a raid in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A girl looks out from a window of a building damaged by shrapnels after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A girl looks out from a window of a building damaged by shrapnels after an Israeli forces raid in the West Bank Jenin refugee camp, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A gunman holds up his weapon as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, with some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags, during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

A gunman holds up his weapon as mourners carry the bodies of Palestinians, with some draped in the Islamic Jihad militant group flags, during their funeral in the West Bank city of Jenin, Thursday, May 23, 2024. The Israeli military said Thursday it has completed a two-day operation in the occupied West Bank that the Palestinian Health Ministry says killed 12 Palestinians. Militant groups claimed at least eight of the dead as fighters, one from Hamas and seven from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)

This combo from photos provided by Hostages Families Forum Headquarters shows from left, Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30. The bodies of three more hostages killed on Oct 7. were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24, 2024. (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

This combo from photos provided by Hostages Families Forum Headquarters shows from left, Michel Nisenbaum, 59, Hanan Yablonka, 42, and Oryon Hernandez Radoux, 30. The bodies of three more hostages killed on Oct 7. were recovered overnight from Gaza, Israel's army said Friday May 24, 2024. (Hostages Families Forum Headquarters via AP)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

Palestinians wounded in the Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip are brought to Al Aqsa hospital in Deir al Balah, Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Thursday, May 23, 2024. (AP Photo/Abdel Kareem Hana)

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Chinese journalist who promoted #MeToo movement sentenced to 5 years in prison

2024-06-14 22:25 Last Updated At:22:30

BEIJING (AP) — Supporters say a Chinese journalist who promoted women’s rights as part of the country’s nascent #MeToo movement has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of incitement to subvert state authority, almost three years after she and an activist were detained.

The verdict provided to The Associated Press stated that Huang Xueqin would also face a fine of 100,000 yuan ($14,000), underscoring the ruling Communist Party’s intolerance of any activism outside its control in a system whose upper echelons are dominated by men.

China’s #MeToo movement flourished briefly before being snuffed out by the government. China often silences activists by holding them incommunicado for a long time and then sentencing them to prison.

Huang’s release date was listed as Sept. 18, 2026, accounting for her earlier detention. Co-defendant Wang Jianbing was sentenced to three years and six months on the same charge. Wang is more known for his labor rights activity but also helped women report sexual harassment.

Huang and Wang's cases appear to have become intertwined as part of the most recent wave of a general crackdown on rights advocates, a trend that predates the #MeToo movement and includes previous incidents such as the 2015 detentions of women distributing pamphlets against sexual harassment on public transport.

Working as an freelance journalist, Huang helped spark China’s first #MeToo case in 2018 when she publicized allegations of sexual harassment made by a graduate student against her Ph.D. supervisor at one of China's most prestigious universities.

Friends say that Huang and Wang disappeared on Sept. 19, 2021, a day before Huang was scheduled to fly to the United Kingdom to start a master’s degree program on gender violence and conflict at the University of Sussex. They went on trial in September 2023.

The International Women’s Media Foundation earlier gave Huang its Wallis Annenberg Justice for Women Journalists Award.

Supporters of Huang and Wang created a GitHub webpage to post case updates and share their thoughts. China is routinely listed by monitoring groups as among the top imprisoning nations of journalists.

Amnesty International’s China Director Sarah Brooks issued a statement condemning Huang's conviction as an attack on women's advocacy in the People's Republic of China, which has long promoted the concept that “women hold up half the sky,” but whose institutions remain dominated by men.

“These convictions will prolong their deeply unjust detention and have a further chilling effect on human rights and social advocacy in a country where activists face increasing state crackdowns,” Brooks said in an emailed statement.

“In reality, they have committed no actual crime. Instead, the Chinese government has fabricated excuses to deem their work a threat, and to target them for educating themselves and others about social justice issues such as women’s dignity and workers’ rights," Brooks said.

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese labor activist Wang Jianbing poses on Mount Lushan in Jiangxi province in April 2021. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Wang has been sentenced to three years and six months on the same charge of undermining state security as co-defendant Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement and has been sentenced to five years in prison . (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese labor activist Wang Jianbing poses on Mount Lushan in Jiangxi province in April 2021. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Wang has been sentenced to three years and six months on the same charge of undermining state security as co-defendant Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement and has been sentenced to five years in prison . (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin holds up a #METOO sign for a photo in Singapore in Sept. 2017. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Xueqin, the Chinese journalist who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of undermining state security. (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

In this photo released by Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing, Chinese journalist Huang Xueqin holds up a #METOO sign for a photo in Singapore in Sept. 2017. Supporters say Friday, June 14, 2024 that Xueqin, the Chinese journalist who promoted women's rights as part of the country's nascent #MeToo movement has been sentenced to five years in prison on charges of undermining state security. (Free Huang Xueqin & Wang Jianbing via AP)

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