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ICJ orders Israel ‘to immediately halt’ Rafah offensive

ICJ judges voted 13-2 in favour of calling on Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah, which has once again displaced more than 800,00 Palestinians, President Nawaf Salam announced today. The court was issuing its decision in the genocide case brought forward by South Africa against Israel.

May 24, 2024 at 3:02 pm


The International Court of Justice (ICJ) today ordered Israel “to immediately halt” its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel has also been ordered to open the Rafah border crossing for humanitarian assistance and to allow access to the Gaza Strip for investigators. The court noted that the humanitarian situation in Rafah had “deteriorated further” since its previous order issued in January, describing the conditions as “disastrous”.

This ruling followed an emergency request from South Africa last week for the ICJ to impose emergency measures, saying Israel’s attacks on the southern Gaza city “must be stopped” to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people.

Judge Nawaf Salam, the court’s president, said: “In conformity with the obligations under the genocide convention Israel must immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in [Rafah] which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza.”

“The court is not convinced that the evacuation efforts and related measures that Israel affirms to have undertaken to enhance the security of civilians in the Gaza Strip.. are sufficient to alleviate the immense risk that the Palestinian population is exposed to as a result of the military offensive in Rafah,” he added.

The measures agreed upon by the court were agreed upon with 13 judges voting for them and two against, including the Israeli judge on the panel.

The ICJ has additionally instructed Israel to report back within one month on its progress in implementing the measures mandated by the court.

Though the decisions are legally-binding, the court has no means of enforcement.

The Palestinian Authority welcomed the court’s decision, saying it reflects an international consensus to end Israel’s war on the Gaza Strip, Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina told Reuters.

Hamas also welcomed the ruling but stated it was insufficient and that the court must call for an end to all Israeli offensives in Gaza.

Israel has been waging a brutal offensive against Gaza since October, despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire. The offensive has killed at least 36,000 Palestinians, mainly children and women, and wounded almost 80,000 others.

More than seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lie in ruins amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine.

Israel is accused of “genocide” at the ICJ, which has ordered Tel Aviv to ensure its forces do not commit acts of genocide and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza. According to South Africa, which took the occupation state to the ICJ, Israel is ignoring the court’s orders.

Read: Israel’s Netanyahu, Gallant in ICC Prosecutor’s crosshairs over Gaza war crimes