UN court orders Israel to halt military operations in Rafah

The Hague, (UNI) The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday ordered Israel to stop its military offensive in Rafah, with immediate effect.

“The situation has deteriorated since the last rulings on January 26 and March 28,” Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the court, stated at the Peace Palace in The Hague. “The humanitarian situation is now disastrous.”

In addition, the court demanded that Israel allow fact finders and investigators of United Nations bodies to investigate allegations of genocide and preserve possible evidence.

The judges added that Israel must submit a report to the court on all measures to implement the court’s order within one month.

On May 10, South Africa requested the ICJ to deliver a ruling on the modification and the indication of provisional measures against Israel concerning the application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip.

It is not the first ruling in the case initiated by South Africa to the ICJ on Dec. 29, 2023. The judges ordered Israel on Jan. 26 to take all measures within its power to prevent genocide, to ensure that its military does not commit genocide, to halt incitement against Palestinians as a group, to preserve evidence, and to take immediate measures to ensure humanitarian aid.

After that, South Africa made subsequent requests in February and March 2024 for additional provisional measures. As a result, the ICJ ordered Israel on March 28 to do whatever is necessary to ensure that basic aid reaches the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip.

“After weeks of bombardments on Rafah, 100,000 Palestinians were already ordered to evacuate on May 6,” Salam said in the Friday ruling. “The military operations are still ongoing and led to new evacuations. As a result, nearly 800,000 people were evacuated on May 18.”

“In the view of the court, the March 28 order does not fully address the change in the situation. So a modification of measures is justified,” said Salam in the latest ruling on Friday.

On May 16 and May 17, the court held public hearings in the current case, with both parties having their chance to make their point.

South Africa’s Ambassador to the Netherlands Vusimuzi Madonsela told the judges that his country had returned to the court “due to the continuing annihilation of the Palestinian people, with over 35,000 now killed, and most of Gaza reduced to rubble.”

However, Israeli Justice Ministry official Gilad Noam told the judges that Israel has been involved in a “tragic war” to defend itself and denied South Africa’s “allegations regarding genocide.”

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