ICJ orders immediate halt to Israeli military operations in Rafah

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued a decisive order on Friday, commanding Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah, a city located in the southern Gaza Strip.

This directive comes after Israel dispatched forces to the area in early May.

The ruling, delivered by a 13-2 majority from the panel of 15 judges, follows a request by South Africa. The request was part of South Africa’s ongoing case accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention.

ICJ President Nawaf Salam stated, “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive, and any other action in the Rafah Governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

This latest ICJ order modifies a previous directive from March 28, which called for the “unhindered provision” of aid to Gaza.

The change is due to the offensive on Rafah, where many displaced Palestinians had sought refuge from the conflict that began in October.

According to UN agencies, the ground invasion has caused over 800,000 people to flee the city.

In its ruling, the ICJ criticized Israel for not providing adequate information regarding the safety and well-being of the evacuees.

The Court expressed concerns over the availability of essential resources such as water, sanitation, food, medicine, and shelter in the Al-Mawasi area for the displaced population.

The Court concluded that Israel had not sufficiently addressed these humanitarian concerns arising from its military actions in Rafah.

Additionally, the ICJ reaffirmed its earlier provisional measures and ordered the Rafah border crossing to remain open for the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.

The Court also mandated Israel to ensure access to Gaza for any UN-authorized investigative bodies probing allegations of genocide.

Israel is required to report on the measures taken to comply with this latest order within a month.

The ICJ reiterated its concern for hostages taken by Hamas during the October 7, 2023 attack, demanding their “immediate and unconditional” release.

Over the past seven months, Israel’s military campaign in Gaza has resulted in the deaths of more than 35,000 Palestinians, widespread destruction, and severe humanitarian crises in the blockaded enclave.

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