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News > Palestine

International Court Orders Israel to Halt Offensive in Rafah

  • International Court of Justice.

    International Court of Justice. | Photo: X/ @ShaykhSulaiman

Published 24 May 2024

Israel's response to the order will be the occupation of Rafah, Defense Minister Gvir said defiantly.

On Friday, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to halt its military offensive in southern Gaza city of Rafah. 


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This decision is related to the request made by South Africa in December 2023, when the International Court received an application for instituting proceedings against Israel for violations in the Gaza Strip of obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide Convention.

"Israel must immediately cease its military offensive or any other actions in the Rafah governorate that may endanger the Palestinian population in Gaza, potentially leading to their physical destruction, wholly or partially," ICJ Judge Nawaf Salam said.

"Israel must implement effective measures to ensure unhindered access to the Gaza Strip for any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission, or investigative body authorized by the relevant organs of the United Nations to investigate allegations of genocide," he added.

Among the first reactions to the ICJ decision were the statements of the Israeli Minister of National Security, Ben Gvir, who described the ruling as "anti-Semitic." Defiantly, the Zionist official said that Israel's response to the ICJ order will be to "occupy Rafa."

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich held a similar opinion, denoting Israel's unwillingness to abide by international institutions and law.

"Those who demand that the State of Israel stop the war demand that it be decreed to cease to exist. We will not accept that. If we lay down our weapons, the enemy will reach the beds of our children and women throughout the country," he said.

On the other hand, the Palestinian Resistance Movement (HAMAS) welcomed the ICJ decision but expressed that it has a limited scope.

"We expected the court to decide on the cessation of aggression in the entire Gaza Strip and not only in the Rafa area. What is happening in Jabalia and other areas is no less criminal and dangerous," it said.

Another limitation of the ruling lies in the fact that the ICJ does not issue binding decisions. Furthermore, Israel does not recognize the jurisdiction of the UN highest court of justice.

The ICJ ruling might have some immediate practical effect if the United Nations Security Council meets and approves a decision along similar lines, which could lead to the intervention of a UN peacekeeping force in the Gaza Strip.

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