ICJ rules Israel must stop Rafah operation

The International Court of Justice called on Israel to end its operation in Rafah, the southernmost town in Gaza.

Over the last two weeks, Israel has reduced entire neighbourhoods in Rafah to rubble and forcefully displaced hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel says it needs to move into Rafah to complete its mission of defeating Hamas. However, the ICJ ruled that Israel’s war aims effectively violate the rights of Palestinians under the Genocide Convention.

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 enable any UN-backed commission of inquiry to enter Gaza and probe genocide allegations.

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

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

South Africa initially filed an emergency request for Israel to end its offensive on Rafah, but then broadened its request for a full ceasefire in Gaza.

Minutes after the ruling came in, reports emerged of Israeli air raids in Rafah.

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

Legal scholars and analysts said Israel refused compliance with earlier ICJ provisional measures on January 26. The ICJ had called on Israel to scale up aid to protect the rights of Palestinians under the genocide convention.

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

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