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ICJ commands Israel to stop genocidal assaults in Rafah
By Belle Carter // May 30, 2024

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the United Nation's top court, has ordered Israel to "immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah," as it is not convinced that the Israeli military is doing enough to protect civilians.

The court acted in support of last week's application of South Africa, which brought genocide charges against Israel at the ICJ in December. The appeal sought several measures against Israel, accusing it of stepping up what it says is a genocide. "Those who have survived so far are facing imminent death now and an order from the court is needed to ensure their survival," Pretoria's filing read. (Related: South Africa calls for immediate halt to Israel’s military offensive in Rafah.)

ICJ head Nawaf Salam read the new ruling and said that its justices were doubtful that the evacuation efforts and the related measures that Israel affirms to have undertaken are not sufficient to "alleviate the immense risk" to civilians in Rafah. Salam said the humanitarian situation has deteriorated further since the court's last order in March and is now classified as "disastrous." The Palestinian city of Rafah hosted around 1.4 million refugees displaced from the enclave when Israel ordered around half that number to evacuate the city as it sent tanks and troops into its eastern neighborhoods.

"Israel must immediately hold its military offensive of [sic] any other action in the Rafah governorate," Salam continued, warning that failure to do so could bring about the wholesale destruction of life in the city.

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But Israel has vehemently denied the allegation. According to National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi in a joint statement with the foreign ministry, Israel has not and will not carry out military operations in the Rafah area that create living conditions that could destroy the Palestinian civilian population, in whole or in part. Jerusalem also signaled it would ignore any order to halt its operation. Its government spokesman told the reporters on Thursday that "no power on earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu maintains that an invasion of Rafah is necessary to root out Hamas' remaining battalions and achieve "total victory" over the militants.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations Riyad Mansour hailed 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 a party to the convention."

Israel declared war on Hamas on October 7, after the militant group killed around 1,100 Israelis and took another 250 to Gaza as hostages. After almost eight months of fighting, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed, most of them women and children, according to Gaza's health ministry.

A UN-backed report warned in March that more than 70 percent of Gaza's population is facing catastrophic hunger, while the World Food Program stated last week that a full-blown famine had developed in the north of the enclave.

World leaders react to ICJ ruling

Apart from the immediate halting of Israel's genocidal attacks on Rafah, ICJ also ordered the country to report back to the court within a month about its progress in applying measures ordered by the institution. It has also asked to reopen the Rafah border crossing with Egypt for humanitarian assistance.

Meanwhile, leaders all around the globe reacted to this ruling. As per Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the presidency welcomes the decision issued by the ICJ, which represents an international consensus on the demand to stop the all-out war on Gaza.

Hamas official Basam Naim said that the militant group welcomed the decision by the UN Court "that calls on the Zionist occupation forces to end its military aggression on Rafah." He added that the group also welcomes the court's request to allow investigators into the Gaza Strip to probe "acts of genocide against the Palestinian people and Hamas pledges to cooperate with investigation committees."

"South Africa welcomes the order handed down by the International Court of Justice today. We are gravely concerned that Israel has restricted necessary levels of aid from entering Gaza and has systematically targeted aid and aid infrastructure within Gaza," South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said. "This case is thus focused on the ordinary Palestinians in Gaza who are now facing their seventh month of suffering through collective punishment for something for which they have no individual responsibility."

The international rights organization Human Rights Watch said the ICJ rulings show how bad things are in Gaza. "The International Court of Justice’s order underlines the gravity of the situation facing Palestinians in Gaza," said Balkees Jarrah, associate director of the group's International Justice Program. "This decision opens up the possibility for relief, but only if governments use their leverage to press Israel to urgently enforce the court’s measures."

On the other side of the coin, United States Senator Lindsay Graham slammed ICJ for its recent decision. "As far as I'm concerned, the ICJ can go to hell. It is long past time to stand up to these so-called international justice organizations associated with the UN. Their anti-Israel bias is overwhelming," she said. "The ICJ's ruling that Israel should stop necessary operations to destroy four battalions of Hamas killers and terrorists – who use Palestinians as human shields – is ridiculous. "This will and should be ignored by Israel."

Bookmark IsraelCollapse.com to get updates on the ongoing war Israel is waging against Palestine.

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