UN Court Orders Israel To Halt Military Operations In Rafah

Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) presides over the International Court of Justice (ICJ), during a ruling on South Africa's request to order a halt to Israel's Rafah offensive in Gaza as part of a larger case brought before the Hague-based court by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide, in The Hague, Netherlands May 24, 2024. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

The Israeli authorities have said that the offensive in Rafah will continue until Hamas is defeated, despite an order by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to stop the assault on that part of Gaza over increasing humanitarian crisis.

The ICJ issued a dramatic ruling, ordering Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah”, following South African application last week which sought a number of measures against Israel, accusing it of stepping up what it said is genocide.

Presiding judge Nawaf Salam said the situation in Gaza had gone terribly bad since the court last ordered Israel to take steps to improve it. However, Israel has vehemently denied the allegation and signaled it would ignore any order to halt its operation.

Reading the court’s ruling on Friday, Nawaf Salam said “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate” which could bring about “the physical destruction” of the Palestinians – alluding to what constitutes genocide under international law.

Israel, he added, must also allow unimpeded access to Gaza to any UN body investigating allegations of genocide.

The ruling also reiterated a requirement for Israel to enable “unhindered provision at scale” of basic services and humanitarian aid for Gaza.

“The humanitarian situation [in Gaza] is now to be characterised as disastrous,” the ruling said. The court also ruled that Hamas must release all the Israeli hostages it is holding unconditionally.

Reacting to this order, Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer described the ruling as “public suicide”, adding “there is no power in the world that will push us” to that.

And war cabinet minister Benny Gantz said Israel would continue its offensive “wherever and whenever necessary – including in Rafah”.

In his reaction Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, applauded the ruling and called for Israel to abide by it.

 

“We expect that resolutions of the ICJ be implemented without hesitation,” he said. “That’s mandatory. And Israel is party to the convention.”

 

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid criticised the ruling, calling it an “abject moral failure” that the ICJ did not connect their bombardment of Rafah to the release of the hostages.

 

Minutes after the ruling was delivered, Israel warplanes carried out a series of air strikes on the Shaboura camp in the centre of Rafah.

 

At least 35,800 Palestinians have been killed in the war   in Gaza since according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

 

Israel began its offensive in Gaza after Hamas militants the organisation which ruled the territory, attacked Israel on 7 October, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 others back to Gaza as hostages.

 

 

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