ICJ orders Israel to end Rafah operation: Gaza live news and updates

The International Court of Justice ruled on Friday that Israel must immediately halt its military offensive on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, dealing another blow to the country as it faces isolation. international establishment is increasing.

The court did not have the means to enforce its order and Israel said the language of the ruling left room for interpretation. Hard-line politicians in Israel immediately declared that Israel would not comply.

However, the 13-2 ruling puts more pressure on the Netanyahu government to go to war. Gazan authorities say at least 35,000 people have been killed, without distinction between combatants and civilians, and hundreds of thousands have been forced to repeatedly flee to avoid Israeli bombardment, which has devastated much of the region. this land.

“The Court finds that in order to be consistent with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, Israel must immediately cease its military offensive and any other actions in the province of Rafah, which could cause harm to the Palestinian population in Gaza. living conditions that could lead to their physical destruction.” in whole or in part,” the court president, Nawaf Salam, said as he read the verdict.

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The ruling is the latest in a series of criticisms of Israel’s conduct of the war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

Last week, the chief prosecutor of a separate court, the International Criminal Court, announced that Mr request an arrest warrant to Israel’s prime minister and defense minister for crimes against humanity, along with three leaders of Hamas; three European countries announced that they would recognition of the Palestinian state; and Israel abandoned its seizure of equipment from the Associated Press after international backlash.

The Court emphasized the need for “unimpeded provision on a large scale by all concerned of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance”, including maintaining open roads and especially the Rafah border crossing, which Israel seized more than two weeks ago. It ordered Israel to “immediately take all effective measures to ensure and facilitate unhindered access” of United Nations investigators into Gaza. The judges also ordered Israel to submit a report on the measures taken to implement the decision within a month.

Last week, a South African legal group called on the ICJ, the United Nations’ top court, to place further restrictions on Israel’s incursion into Rafah, saying it was “the final step in destroying Gaza and its people.”

Israel claims that its operation in Rafah, where more than 800,000 people have fled since the offensive began two weeks ago, was a precision operation aimed at Hamas. The country’s army said on Thursday it was fighting in residential areas near the city center, where half the territory’s population had taken refuge from the Israeli army. command Mass evacuation there.

Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law, Gilad Noam, and other Israeli lawyers dismissed the claims in court last week, calling the South African case a “factual reversal.”

In a statement, the Israeli government said its military “has not and will not” carry out actions that would lead to the partial or total destruction of civilians in Rafah. In fact, they said the court’s decision had nothing to do with the Israeli attack. because the army does not carry out prohibited acts.

Some right-wing allies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu both quickly condemned the order and suggested that Israel should not comply. “A response is needed: conquer Rafah, escalate military pressure and completely destroy Hamas until complete victory is achieved,” said Itamar Ben-Gvir, the far-right Israeli Minister of National Security. whole”. declare.

This command also seems to leave room for interpretation. Adil Haque, a law professor at Rutgers Law School, said the ruling limits what Israel can do in and around Rafah, but still leaves the country some room to defend itself.

“Large-scale military operations in or around Rafah can be excluded from the list because they would lead to mass deaths and displacement of civilians,” he said. “However, in principle, targeted operations in specific response to missile firing or hostage rescue should still be discussed.”

Dire Tladi, the court’s South African judge, clarified in a separate opinion that “legitimate defensive actions, within the strict limits of international law, to repel specific attacks ,” would be consistent with the court’s ruling. But “continued offensive military operations in Rafah and elsewhere” will not happen.

Mr. Haque added that the verdict will help hold Israel accountable and, ultimately, the court will decide the limits on further military action in Rafah.

“Israel can take the legally safe route and severely limit its activities, or it can take the legally risky route and test the court’s patience,” he said. ”.

The South African group also argues that Israel’s control of two major border crossings in southern Gaza, at Rafah and Kerem Shalom, is preventing enough aid from coming in, leaving Gaza in “unprecedented levels of humanitarian need.” ”. According to UN data, few aid trucks are entering, but dozens of commercial trucks – carrying goods for sale rather than free distribution – have entered the area from the Kerem Shalom intersection.

The hearings are part of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide, which it filed in December. At the end of January, the court ordered Israel to do more to prevent acts of genocide, but it does not stop at calling for a ceasefire. The main case involving accusations of genocide is not expected to begin until next year. Israel has denied accusations that it is committing genocide.

In March, in its strongest language to date, the court ordered Israel to stop obstructing humanitarian aid to Gaza as severe famine spread there, calling on Israel to increase the amount overland to resupply and provide “full cooperation” with the United States. Countries.

Judge Salam said that the situation in Gaza had worsened since March and was now “considered catastrophic.”

Israel launched the military operation in retaliation for the Oct. 7 attack that officials said killed 1,200 people and led to the kidnapping of about 250 others into Gaza. The court reiterated its call for the “immediate and unconditional release” of hostages still held by Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza.


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