UN Supreme Court rules on South Africa’s urgent request for Gaza withdrawal

Status: 24.05.2024 08:22 a.m.

Israel wants to use “targeted operations” to crush Hamas in Gaza. South Africa speaks of “genocide” and is demanding an immediate withdrawal at the International Court of Justice. The UN court will decide on the urgent application today.

Today, the highest UN court is due to make a decision that could increase political pressure on Israel: This afternoon, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague will announce its decision on a request from South Africa calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

South Africa’s urgent application is arguing that it is about preventing genocide against Palestinians. The reason given was that the court’s previous measures in connection with the war in Gaza were not sufficient. In two decisions, the UN judges had already obliged Israel to do everything possible to prevent genocide and to allow humanitarian aid.

South Africa is therefore demanding the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops from the Gaza Strip – including from the city of Rafah. Decisions of the World Court are binding. However, the UN judges have no power to force a state to implement them. They can, however, call on the UN Security Council to take action on the matter.

Israel’s army: 180 terrorists killed

Since the beginning of May, Israel’s army has reportedly been carrying out “targeted” operations in the border town of Rafah in the south of the Gaza Strip, where it hopes to locate and destroy the last remaining Hamas battalions. Its own ground troops have now reached the Shabura area, Israeli army spokesman Daniel Hagari announced on Thursday evening. “We are not storming Rafah, but are proceeding carefully and precisely,” stressed Hagari.

“So far, we have eliminated more than 180 terrorists in Rafah,” Hagari said. The army also destroyed launchers and rockets that were intended to be fired into Israeli territory. In addition, underground Hamas tunnels and shafts were dug.

“The operation on the ground is intensive and determined, with difficult fighting in complex terrain,” the spokesman explained. Around a million civilians have now left the city following Israel’s evacuation calls.

USA rejects major ground offensive

Before the Israeli army began its invasion, more than a million internally displaced people from other parts of the Gaza Strip had sought protection in Rafah. The city is the last half-intact city in the Gaza Strip after almost eight months of war. Having reached Shabura, the army is now fighting near the center of Rafah, wrote the New York Times.

The USA, Israel’s most important ally, recently declared that the operations in Rafah had not yet reached the extent that the US government had warned about. The USA rejects a major Israeli ground offensive in Rafah.

Israeli operations so far “have been more targeted and limited and have not included major military operations in the center of densely populated urban areas,” US President Joe Biden’s security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Wednesday. “We now have to wait and see how the situation develops,” he added.

Minister Gantz wants Commission of Inquiry

Domestically, pressure is mounting on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to finally clarify why Hamas terrorists were able to enter Israeli territory almost unhindered on October 7. During the attack, they massacred more than 1,200 people and abducted more than 250 hostages into the Gaza Strip. The attack is the reason for Israel’s military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

Benny Gantz, minister in Israel’s war cabinet, spoke out in favor of an investigative commission. “It is not enough that we take responsibility for what happened – we must learn from it and act in such a way that it never happens again,” he said in a video message on Platform X on Thursday evening.

Israel hopes for new Hostage negotiations

Prime Minister Netanyahu had previously denied in a statement that he had received warnings from the military about a possible attack from the Gaza Strip. According to media reports, scouts on the border with the Gaza Strip had repeatedly warned in vain about suspicious activities in the sealed-off coastal area before the surprise attack by Hamas.

Five of these spies, who were kidnapped on October 7, were seen in video footage released by Hamas terrorists on Wednesday. The young women’s parents had agreed to the release in the hope that the gruesome images could contribute to the release of their daughters and other hostages in a deal between Israel and Hamas.

According to Israeli media reports, CIA Director Bill Burns will travel to Europe in the coming days to meet with the head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service Mossad, David Barnea, to try to revive stalled talks on the release of the hostage and a ceasefire.

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