Israel tells UN court it has the right to continue attack on Rafah, Gaza | Israel’s war against Gaza News

Lawyers for Israel have told the United Nations top court that the country has the right to press ahead with a large-scale offensive in Rafah, southern Gaza, to defend itself against the Palestinian group Hamas after South Africa submitted a request urgent to order a ceasefire as part of a broader case accusing Israel of genocide.

“The fact is that the city of Rafah also serves as a military stronghold of Hamas, which continues to pose a significant threat to the State of Israel and its citizens,” Gilad Noam, Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law, told the International Court. of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague on Friday.

Noam accused South Africa of making “a mockery of the appalling accusation of genocide,” accusing the country of “adopting a strategy of endlessly dragging Israel to court” and of having an “ulterior motive” for urging an Israeli withdrawal from Rafah to obtain “a military advantage for its ally Hamas, which it does not want to see defeated.”

Reporting from The Hague, Al Jazeera’s Step Vaessen said the hearing had been “unusual”, and a German judge asked Israel to submit a written response to a request for information on humanitarian conditions in its “evacuation zones.” ” declared in Gaza the next day. .

Adding to the “intense emotions” in the audience, a woman had shouted “Liars, liars!” to the Israeli legal representative from the public gallery, Vaessen said.

“South Africa says this is now the last chance for the court to save the people of Gaza and save the people of Rafah,” he said.

South Africa on Thursday asked the ICJ to order Israel to stop its offensive on Rafah, where the UN says at least 630,000 displaced civilians have been forced to flee after seeking refuge from shelling across the besieged enclave.

The lawyers asked the ICJ to issue three emergency orders, or “provisional measures,” as it rules on the broader charge that Israel is violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Size on May 7 when he launched an assault on the city and the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossing with Israel.

“This is blatantly false,” he said at Friday’s hearing. “The truth is that Israel allows and facilitates the delivery of more and more humanitarian aid through several crossings daily.”

Al Jazeera’s Tareq Abu Azzoum, reporting from Deir el-Balah in central Gaza, said U.N. officials confirmed that no aid has arrived through any of the crossings.

Marc Owen Jones, associate professor of Middle East studies and digital humanities at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, said he believed South Africa’s case was strong enough for the court to issue additional interim measures in Gaza, given humanitarian conditions. They had only gotten worse after the court’s decision. previous orders for Israel to allow the flow of aid.

“It’s been months and the aid situation is desperate,” he told Al Jazeera.

While a decision on the emergency measures is expected next week, it will likely be years before the court can rule on the underlying genocide charge.

‘genocidal’ consequences

On Thursday, ICJ judges heard multiple allegations against Israel brought by lawyers representing South Africa, relating to mass graves, torture and deliberate withholding of humanitarian aid.

South African lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi told the court that Israel was pressing ahead with its attacks in Rafah despite “explicit warnings” that they could lead to “genocidal” consequences.

South Africa asked the court to order Israel to “immediately” cease all military operations in Gaza, including Rafah, and withdraw from the territory. It also wants Israel to allow humanitarian access, allow unimpeded access to UN officials, aid groups, journalists and researchers, and report on its progress in carrying out these orders.

It is the third time the ICJ has held hearings on the ongoing Israeli war in Gaza since South Africa filed a genocide case in December.

In January, judges ordered Israel to do everything possible to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza, and to allow humanitarian aid to reach the enclave. But he stopped short of ordering the end of the military offensive.

ICJ judges have broad powers to order a ceasefire and other measures, although the court does not have its own enforcement apparatus. A 2022 court order demanding Russia stop its large-scale invasion of Ukraine has not been heard so far.

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