Creating new perspectives since 2009

'Layers of chipping away at Israeli impunity being built here,' says ex-Israel gov't advisor on ICJ Rafah order

May 24, 2024 at 6:34 pm

(From L) Yaron Wax, deputy head of mission for the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands, British lawyer and member of Israel’s legal team, Malcom Shaw KC and Member of Israel’s legal team Avigail Frisch Ben Avraham attend a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on May 24, 2024 in The Hague [NICK GAMMON/AFP via Getty Images]

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday issued an order, calling on Israel to halt its military assault in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, Anadolu Agency reports.

The decision came after Israel launched a ground offensive on 6 May in Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians have sheltered from Tel Aviv’s war on the enclave.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) estimates that more than 800,000 people have fled the city since the start of the Israeli assault.

The ICJ also called on Israel to maintain the Rafah Crossing open for unhindered access to basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

The best way to look at this is that layers of chipping away at Israeli impunity are being built here. There is an accumulation here of a loss of legal, political, diplomatic, economic, moral standing by Israel

Daniel Levy, a former senior advisor during ex-Premier Ehud Barak’s government, told Anadolu.

READ: Strikes continue in Gaza, as UN Court orders Israel to halt Rafah assault

Levy also emphasised the importance of maintaining the pressure on other countries, not just the US, to take measures against Israel for its attacks on Gaza since 7 October, 2023.

Some countries have joined the International Court of Justice appeal by the South Africans. More countries can be taking these and additional measures because unless there is a cost, unless there is a price to pay, Israel will not desist from its actions

he said.

“And I would also argue that Israel will continue to do itself harm, that Israel is actually undermining its own security as well, of course, as wreaking this horrific killing, starvation, humanitarian crisis on the Palestinians,” he added.

Israel has been continuing its brutal offensive on the Gaza Strip since 7 October, 2023 despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in the enclave.

More than 35,700 Palestinians have been killed, the vast majority of whom have been women and children, and nearly 80,000 others injured since last October following an attack by the Palestinian group, Hamas.

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

Israel stands accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) which, in January, issued an interim ruling that ordered it to stop genocidal acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

Levy said that this decision represents an “important escalation” in the provisional measures called for by the ICJ in South Africa’s case aimed at averting “irreparable harm” to the Palestinians and plausible breaches of the Genocide Convention.

“The Court previously called for provisional measures, but Israel ignored that ruling. The Court is now calling for a cessation of the operation in Rafah,” the former Israeli government advisor said.

READ: EU backing of Israel undermining its values and rule-based system, say staff

“Of course, the question here is what happens next because the Court has no power of enforcement. This is not a national court where the national political institutions can then send in the enforcement authorities,” he said.

“The key thing will be, are Israel’s backers, those states which have enabled and, most importantly, armed, provided the weapons for Israel to continue this,” he added.

Levy emphasised that the vast majority of countries have spoken against Israel’s actions in Gaza and have called for a ceasefire. However, he pointed out that these states are not the ones supplying arms to Israel, particularly the US.

To be clear, without US weaponry, Israel’s attack on Gaza would not have lasted eight months, perhaps not even one, said Levy, adding Israel’s assault in Rafah today would be impossible without it.

He said: “The Americans actually said, ‘Don’t conduct this operation in Rafah’, and you have this brief moment where a review was conducted and one particular dispersing of armaments to Israel was halted.”

“But that is not the overall direction. The overall direction is the weapons continue. The political cover continues.”

Levy said the US has condemned the ICC, used its UN Security Council veto, and may react similarly to the ICJ’s decision.

He said if the US continues arming Israel’s “criminal activity”, he does not expect any reconsideration on Israel’s part.

“I think this carries significant costs for the Biden administration, for the United States, for its national interest. “The global institutions of international law, of the rule of law, of a normative system, are fragile,” he concluded.

READ: US responds to ICC war crimes probe by inviting Netanyahu to address Congress