ICJ: Israel must stop Rafa attack “immediately”

Israel must “immediately cease military offensives and any other actions in the Rafah area,” the judges said. It was argued that a military offensive could contribute to living conditions “that could lead to the total or partial destruction” of the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip. The ruling made no mention of the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the entire Gaza Strip.

Also, the UN Supreme Court ordered Israel to open the Rafah crossing on the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. The move is necessary to “ensure the large-scale uninterrupted delivery of urgently needed basic goods and humanitarian assistance”.

Israel: “The Distortion of Truth”

The court’s decision was taken by a vote of 13 to two. Apart from the judge from Israel, a judge from Uganda also voted against. Terrorist organization Hamas welcomed the ICJ ruling, but said it did not go far enough. Israel must stop all attacks. The Palestinian Authority has also welcomed the decision. The ruling reflects the “international consensus” that the war in the Gaza Strip must end.

In an initial reaction, Israel’s Finance Minister Bezalel Smodrich said that anyone who calls on Israel to end the war is calling on the country to end its existence. Government spokesman Avi Hyman said in advance that South Africa’s allegations “distort the truth”. Israel claims the right to self-defense. “No power in the world will prevent Israel from protecting its citizens and taking action against Hamas in Gaza.”

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South Africa welcomed the ICJ decision. They will now return to the UN Security Council, the Foreign Office announced. The ICJ’s instruction is binding and must be followed by Israel. South Africa had requested urgent measures and submitted an emergency application to the UN Court on 10 May. It was argued that the previous proceedings of the court were insufficient. The motion is part of a broader lawsuit accusing Israel of genocide.

Graphic of Israel's territorial growth since 1947

Graphics: APA/ORF

Israel’s army continues to advance towards Rafah

According to its own reports, the Israeli army continued to advance against Hamas in Rafah, south of the Gaza Strip. Israel’s military spokesman Daniel Hagari announced that its own ground forces have now reached the Shaburah area where Hamas terrorists attacked. “So far we have killed more than 180 terrorists in Rafah,” he added.

At the same time, troops destroyed launchers and rockets intended to be fired into Israeli territory. Also, tunnels and underground passages were destroyed. They are in the process of identifying more places. “The action on the ground is intense and decisive, with tough battles in complex areas,” Hagari said.

Doctors said there was heavy fighting in Jabalja, north of the Palestinian territories. Neighbors spoke of clouds of smoke and explosions. At least 5 people lost their lives when the houses collapsed. The local market was destroyed. Bulldozers are said to be demolishing shops and other buildings in the northern city.

Decision-making is binding, but sanctions are not possible

Judgments of the World Court are binding. However, UN judges do not have the power to compel a state to comply. But you can call the UN Security Council to take action on the matter. The Israeli advance began on May 6 in East Rafah. “We are not attacking Rafa, but we are going carefully and precisely,” Hagari said. Israel wants to destroy the last remaining Hamas battalions in Rafah. Following Israel’s evacuation calls, around one million civilians have now fled the city.

The United States, Israel’s most important ally, recently said the military operation in Rafah had not yet reached the level the US government had warned it would. US rejects major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah. Israel’s previous deployments have been “highly targeted and limited and have not included major military operations in the heart of densely populated urban areas,” US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser Jack Sullivan said in Washington on Wednesday.

“Now we have to wait and see how the situation develops,” he said. After reaching Shaboura, the army is now fighting near Rafah city center, the New York Times wrote. After almost eight months of fighting, Rafah is a partially intact town in the Gaza Strip.

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