Top UN Court Orders Israel To Stop Rafah Offensive

judges case dispute International Court of Justice 2014

The UN’s top court, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), has issued a dramatic ruling, ordering Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah”.

It acted in support of a South African application last week which sought a number of measures against Israel, accusing it of stepping up what it says is a genocide.

Israel has vehemently denied the allegation as baseless and has signalled it would ignore any order to halt its operation.

Ahead of Friday’s ruling, a government spokesperson said “no power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza”.

Reading the court’s ruling on Friday, presiding judge Nawaz Salam said that “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.

Israeli began a long-anticipated offensive in Rafah about three weeks ago, vowing to destroy the remaining Hamas battalions there. It says it believes Israeli hostages are also being held in the town.

See also  ICJ orders Israel to stop military onslaught in Gaza

The UN says more than 800,000 Palestinians have fled from Rafah since the offensive began. About 1.5 million had been sheltering there from the fighting elsewhere in Gaza.

The hearing is part of a case brought by South Africa to the ICJ in December, claiming Israel was committing genocide in Gaza. That case is ongoing.

Israel began its offensive in Gaza after gunmen from Hamas, 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.

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

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