Politics & News

UPDATED: International Court of Justice Rules Israel Must Halt Military Offensive in Rafah

The International Court of Justice has issued an order for Israel to put an immediate stop to its military activities in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

The order, while unlikely to be followed by Israel, further escalates pressure on the country.

Criticism of Israel’s conduct in the Gaza conflict has been mounting, even from the United States, its closest ally, which cautioned against an invasion of Rafah, where many Palestinians have sought refuge from the fighting.

Additionally, three European countries have announced their intention to recognize a Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor for another U.N. court has requested arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is facing domestic pressure to end the war, which was triggered by a militant attack that resulted in the deaths of 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and the capture of 250 individuals.

Thousands of Israelis have taken part in weekly demonstrations urging the government to secure the hostages’ release.

Israel has signaled that it will not comply with the ICJ’s order to cease its operations.

The court’s president, Nawaf Salam, announced the ruling, as pro-Palestinian protesters gathered outside.

The ruling expressed concerns about the humanitarian situation in Rafah, but did not call for a full cease-fire in Gaza, as requested by South Africa during hearings last week.

The cease-fire request is part of a case filed by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide.

Israel denies the allegations, and the case is expected to take years to resolve.

At last week’s hearings, South Africa’s ambassador urged the court to order Israel to “totally and unconditionally withdraw” from the Gaza Strip.

The court has previously acknowledged the “real and imminent risk” posed by Israel’s military operations to the Palestinian people in Gaza.

According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, Israel’s offensive has resulted in the deaths of more than 35,000 Palestinians, and has led to mass displacement and famine.

Despite South Africa’s claims, Israel contends that it takes extraordinary measures to minimize harm to civilians in Gaza.

In January, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything possible to prevent deaths, destruction, and acts of genocide in Gaza, while stopping short of ordering an end to the military offensive.

The International Court of Justice, which rules in disputes between nations, operates separately from the International Criminal Court, where charges can be filed against individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.

The ICC’s chief prosecutor has requested arrest warrants for Netanyahu, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three top Hamas leaders for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza, posing potential challenges for their international travel.

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