UN court: Israel must stop Rafah offensive

South Africa’s lawsuit
UN court: Israel must stop Rafah offensive

Smoke rises after an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City

© Abed Rahim Khatib / DPA

The United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled that Israel must immediately stop its offensive in Raffah. South Africa had filed a lawsuit – for the third time.

In the dispute over the Israeli offensive in Rafah, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ruled in favour of South Africa. According to the ruling, Israel must stop the offensive in the city in the south of the Gaza Strip.

South Africa had requested immediate action against Israel and demanded the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip, including the city of Rafah. In the complaint, Pretoria also urged Israel to take “immediately all effective measures” to “ensure and facilitate” unhindered access of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

Third lawsuit over Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip

This is the third time that South Africa has asked the UN court to take additional measures against Israel. In December, South Africa accused Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip before the ICJ. In response, the ICJ ordered Israel in January to do everything in its power to prevent acts related to “genocide” in the Gaza Strip. However, the court did not order a ceasefire.

The court decision on Friday increases political pressure on Israel. The Israeli army advanced into Rafah in early May despite international warnings and says it is carrying out “targeted” operations in the border town, where it locates the last remaining Hamas battalions.

Judges find South Africa’s “genocide” claim plausible – what the decision means

05:08 min

South Africa’s UN ambassador Vusimuzi Madonsela said last week in a public hearing before the ICJ that Israel’s “genocide” in the Palestinian territory continues unabated and has “just reached a new and horrific level”.

UN court without sanctions

The ICJ was set up to adjudicate interstate disputes. Although its rulings are legally binding, it has little ability to enforce them.

At the beginning of the week, the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested an arrest warrant against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for crimes in the Gaza war. At the same time, the chief prosecutor requested arrest warrants against the leadership of the radical Islamic Palestinian movement Hamas. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell called on Israel on Friday to refrain from intimidating the ICC judges.

“I ask everyone, starting with the Israeli government, but also some European governments, not to intimidate the judges or threaten them,” Borrell said in an interview with the Spanish television station TVE. The actions of chief prosecutor Karim Khan should not be viewed as an “anti-Semitic attitude,” Borrell stressed with regard to the requested arrest warrant and called for “respect for the International Criminal Court.”


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