• Tuesday, June 18, 2024
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UN top court orders Israel to halt military operations in Rafah

UN top court orders Israel to halt military operations in Rafah

The International Court of Justice rules that Israel must halt its military offensive in Rafah in southern Gaza.

South Africa had asked the ICJ to order it as an emergency measure, saying Israel’s actions in Rafah amount to a “genocidal” operation and threaten the survival of the Palestinian people.

The request forms part of a larger case South Africa has brought before the court about Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Israel has previously said the Rafah offensive is key to defeating Hamas following the 7 October attacks and called South Africa’s case “wholly unfounded”.

Read also: US to stop arms shipment to Israel if it invades Rafah

The ICJ is the top UN court and can make legally binding rulings in disputes between countries, but has little way of enforcing its orders.

Minutes after the decision of the International Court of Justice, Israeli warplanes launched a series of air strikes on the Shaboura camp in the centre of the city of Rafah.

A local activist at nearby Kuwait Hospital told the BBC that the sounds of bombing were terrifying and clouds of black smoke hung over buildings in the Shaboura camp.

They said the rescue teams in the hospital were unable to reach the site of the raids due to the intensity of the strikes.

Israeli government spokesperson David Mencer says there is “no power in the world that will push us to commit a public suicide, because that’s what this is, to stop our war against Hamas.”

Israeli cabinet ministers are meeting later to discuss the ruling but government officials have previously said that no power on earth would stop Israel protecting its citizens and pursuing Hamas in Gaza.

Read also: Gaza ceasefire unlikely as Israel vows to continue strike operation in Rafah

The Palestinian Authority (PA) – which runs parts of the occupied West Bank – and Hamas – which runs Gaza and attacked nearby Israeli communities on 7 October, sparking the current war – have welcomed the decision.

However Hamas says the call to end the offensive should cover all of Gaza and not just Rafah.

The ruling “represents an international consensus to end the war on the Gaza Strip,” PA presidential spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeina tells Reuters news agency.