ICJ orders Israel to stop its offensive on Rafah and Gaza in new ruling | Israel-Palestine Conflict News

Judges at the United Nations’ highest court ordered Israel to halt its offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah and withdraw from the enclave, in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide, citing an “immense risk.” for the Palestinian population.

Friday’s decision marked the third time this year that the 15-judge panel issued preliminary orders seeking to control the death toll and alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza. While the orders are legally binding, the court has no police to enforce them.

Reading a ruling from the International Court of Justice, or World Court, the body’s president, Nawaf Salam, said that the provisional measures ordered by the court in March did not fully address the current situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave and that the requirements had been met. conditions for a new emergency order.

Israel must “immediately stop its military offensive and any other actions in the Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza living conditions that could lead to their total or partial physical destruction,” Salam said, calling for the humanitarian situation in Rafah it is “disastrous”.

South Africa’s lawyers had last week asked the ICJ in The Hague to impose emergency measures, saying Israel’s attacks on Rafah must stop to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people.

Reporting from The Hague in the Netherlands, Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen said 13 of the 15 ICJ judges agreed to ask Israel to stop its attack.

“(Salam) said that 800,000 people are displaced and that he does not believe Israel’s word that they are provided security and humanitarian access. He said there was no evidence of that,” he noted.

“That is why the court has now issued a very firm order for Israel to immediately stop its offensive and military operation in Rafah and withdraw its troops from there. He also ruled that border crossings must be reopened as soon as possible so that humanitarian aid can enter,” Vaessen added.

The judge also stressed that UN observers must be given access as soon as possible to ensure that evidence of possible war crimes does not disappear from the region.

The ICJ also ordered Israel to report to the court within a month on its progress in implementing the measures ordered by the institution.

Israel launched its assault on the southern city of Rafah this month, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee a city that had become a refuge for about half of the population’s 2.3 million people.

Rafah, on the southern edge of Gaza, has also been the main entry route for aid, and international organizations say the Israeli operation has isolated the enclave and increased the risk of famine.

Al Jazeera’s Hind Al Khoudary, reporting from Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, said people in the Gaza Strip have not yet reacted to the ICJ ruling as many of them do not have an internet connection.

“People here in the Gaza Strip are currently trying to feed themselves… after being constantly displaced. So people are not very aware of what is happening. They are asking journalists…if there is anything positive,” she said.

Khoudary added that as journalists in Gaza, they do not want to give false hope to people in the region and are waiting to hear more information about how the ICJ ruling will be implemented in Rafah, where the situation remains tense.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed Friday’s decision by the International Court of Justice, saying it represents an international consensus to end the war in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told the Reuters news agency.

Shortly after the ruling, Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on social media platform X that “the State of Israel is at war for its existence.”

“Those who demand that the State of Israel stop the war, demand that it be decreed that it will cease to exist. We will not accept that,” he stated.

“We continue to fight for ourselves and for the entire free world. History will judge who supported the Nazis of Hamas and ISIS (ISIL) today,” he added.

Al Jazeera’s Imran Khan, reporting from Amman, Jordan, said diplomatic sources told Israel’s Channel 13 that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will call an emergency meeting.

“The meeting will be attended by Foreign Minister Israel Katz, War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz, and the government’s judicial advisor. “That’s how seriously they are taking this ruling,” Khan said.

“We are hearing from political sources speaking to local media that Israel will not respond to the court’s decision, neither politically nor militarily,” he added.

According to war crimes prosecutor Reed Brody, the ICJ has taken a step forward to confront the reality in the Gaza Strip.

“I am really impressed, first of all by South Africa’s tenacity and perseverance and their return to the field. And the court responded almost unanimously,” he told Al Jazeera.

Brody noted that South Africa has been asking for an order for Israel to stop its military offensive since the start of the war in Gaza, and the court said it cannot take any action because Hamas and the Palestinian side are not present on the stand.

“But that’s what they ultimately decided to do here and it’s a testament to this court and what it does,” he said.

“Together with the ICC prosecutor’s decision (to recommend arrest warrants against senior Israeli officials), it is a true legal double whammy.”

Members of South Africa's legal team (left) attend a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as part of South Africa's request for a Gaza ceasefire in The Hague.
Members of South Africa’s legal team, left, attend a hearing at the ICJ (Nick Gammon/AFP)

The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is the highest UN body to hear disputes between states. Its rulings are final and binding, but have been ignored in the past.
In a highly charged ruling in January, the court ordered Israel to do everything in its power to prevent genocidal acts in Gaza, but stopped short of ordering a halt to the fighting.

Israel has repeatedly dismissed genocide allegations in the case as baseless, arguing in court that its operations in Gaza are self-defense and target Hamas fighters who attacked Israel on October 7.

Leave a Comment