International Court of Justice orders Israel to stop military operations in Rafah – The Irish Times

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to stop its military offensive in Rafah and open the border crossing there for humanitarian assistance.

In its ruling, the world court said it was “not convinced” that the evacuation of Rafah and other measures by Israel were sufficient to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinians.

The decision marks the third time this year that the 15-judge panel has issued preliminary orders seeking to reduce the death toll and alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza.

The judges said the humanitarian situation in Rafah has “deteriorated” since the last court order and that the situation there can now be classified as “disastrous.”

The court also said that to preserve evidence, Israel must take steps to ensure unhindered access to Gaza for investigators.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the decision, saying it represents an international consensus to end the war in the Gaza Strip, said Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina.

Hamas also welcomed the ruling, but said it was not enough, adding that Israel’s military operations in the entire enclave, not just Rafah, should be ended.

The ruling comes after lawyers for the South African government asked the court last week to impose emergency measures, saying Israel’s attacks on the southern Gaza city “must stop” to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people.

The rulings of the ICJ, also known as the world court, are final and binding, but have been ignored in the past. The court has no enforcement powers.

Israel has repeatedly rejected accusations of genocide as baseless. He has argued in court that the operations in Gaza are self-defense and target Hamas militants who attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 people and taking more than 250 hostages.

An Israeli government spokesman said Thursday that “no power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and pursuing Hamas in Gaza.”

An Israeli military spokesman said the army is operating “with care and precision” in Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge from Israeli bombing and operations in other parts of the Palestinian enclave.

It comes amid growing diplomatic pressure on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s government.

Ireland, Spain and Norway said on Wednesday they would recognize a Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), also based in The Hague, announced on Monday that he had filed a request for arrest warrants against Netanyahu and his defending. Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as Hamas leaders.

The ICC prosecutes people for alleged war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, while the ICJ is the UN’s top body for disputes between states.

The ICJ had previously rejected Israel’s demand to dismiss the case as a whole. The court has ordered him to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians and allow the flow of aid, stopping short of ordering a cessation of Israeli military operations.

Since then, more than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in the offensive launched by Israel following the October 7 attack, Gaza’s Health Ministry says. – Reuters

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