ICJ rules that Israel must stop Rafah operation, what next? | Gaza News

The International Court of Justice called on Israel to end its operation in Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.

Over the past two weeks, Israel has reduced entire neighborhoods of Rafah to rubble and forcibly displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel says it needs to advance toward Rafah to complete its mission of defeating Hamas. However, the ICJ ruled that Israel’s war goals effectively violate Palestinian rights under the Genocide Convention.

This is everything you need to know about the new ICJ orders.

What was the ICJ’s decision on South Africa’s case against Israel?

According to the court, Israel must stop its offensive on Rafah.

The court was not convinced that Israel had taken sufficient measures to protect civilian life and voted (13 judges to two) that Israel must take effective measures to allow any UN-backed commission of inquiry to enter Gaza and investigate the allegations of genocide.

The court also reaffirmed its previous ruling on January 26 that Israel must increase aid to Palestinians in Gaza.

“The ICJ is basically saying: OK, enough,” said Alonso Gurmendi, an international law academic at King’s College London. “It’s a pretty substantial order… (reflects) a loss of patience (with Israel) in my opinion.”

Director-General of South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation, Zane Dangor, and South Africa’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, at the ICJ, where South Africa requests new emergency measures over Israel’s attacks on Rafah, The Hague , Netherlands, May 16, 2024 (Yves Herman/Reuters)

What was South Africa’s complaint against Israel?

South Africa initially submitted an emergency request for Israel to end its offensive in Rafah, but later expanded its request for a complete ceasefire in Gaza.

Will this stop Israel’s attack on Rafah?

Minutes after the ruling emerged, reports emerged of Israeli airstrikes in Rafah.

For now, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not made any formal statement. But analysts believe Israel will continue to violate the ICJ order.

Academics and legal analysts said Israel refused to comply with the ICJ’s earlier provisional measures on January 26. The ICJ had called on Israel to increase aid to protect Palestinian rights under the genocide convention.

Gurmendi added that the new provisional measure aggravates the pressure on Western states that arm Israel.

“How can you justify selling weapons for Israel to use in Rafah? I don’t think you can. I think it is legally impossible,” she stated. “So while this (ICJ order) will not stop the operation in Rafah, it increases pressure on the idea that it is okay to continue selling weapons to Israel.”

What else did the ICJ say?

He ordered Israel to open the Rafah crossing for unhindered aid delivery.

“The order is (legally) binding on Israel. “Previous (ICJ) orders (to increase aid) have already put states on notice that there is an imminent risk of genocide and therefore their duty – under the genocide convention – to prevent it has already been activated,” said Heidi Matthews, legal attorney. academic at York University in Toronto.

“Obviously some people will be disappointed that there was no complete ceasefire order. “This is still a great measure, but it is not a complete ceasefire measure,” he added.

Any reaction from Palestine or Palestinian groups?

Hamas welcomed the ICJ rulings. He said in a statement that Israel continues to commit massacres in the Gaza Strip. The group added that it hopes the court will eventually issue an order for Israel to stop its war throughout the besieged strip.

“What is happening in Jabalia and other governorates in the Strip is no less criminal and dangerous than what is happening in Rafah.”

“We call on the international community and the United Nations to pressure the occupation to immediately comply with this decision and to seriously and genuinely proceed to translate all UN resolutions compelling the Zionist occupation army to stop the genocide. that he has been committing against our people for more than seven months.”

How did Israel respond?

The response from Israeli officials has largely been defiant.

Many officials repeated earlier accusations that the court was helping “terrorists.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that Israel was in a “war for its existence,” adding that stopping the Rafah invasion was akin to demanding that Israel “cease to exist.”

He warned that stopping the assault would mean that “the enemy will reach the beds of our children and women throughout the country.” He then tweeted that “history will judge who supported the Nazis of Hamas and ISIS (ISIL).”

Will the ICJ be able to enforce Friday’s ruling?

They have no enforcement power in the UN system. Application of the law depends on members of the tribunal fulfilling their obligations under international law and the UN Security Council.

How is this court hearing different from the previous one?

Both hearings were aimed at ensuring an end to Israel’s devastating war against Gaza. Experts told Al Jazeera that the new ICJ orders intensify pressure on Israel and allied states to protect Palestinians and end their war in Gaza, which has killed more than 35,000 people and made the enclave is effectively uninhabitable.

Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli Finance Minister and leader of the Religious Zionist Party.
Bezalel Smotrich, Israeli Finance Minister and leader of the Religious Zionist Party (Gil Cohen Magen/AFP)

Whats Next?

ICJ orders are legally binding. However, the court’s ruling will now be discussed in the UN Security Council, where states can decide to take united measures to enforce the court’s orders. Security Council resolutions are also legally binding.

However, the United States has a veto, which it has historically used to protect Israel from the consequences of violating international law.

On April 18, the United States vetoed a proposed resolution that would have made Palestine the 194th member of the UN.

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