Israel Ordered by UN Court to Stop Its Rafah Assault

( – International outrage continues over Israel’s plan to launch a major ground invasion of Rafah. More than 1 million Palestinians took refuge in the city after the attacks on other parts of the country. Now, the United Nations’ top court has ordered the Israeli government to stop its Rafah assault.

On May 24, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to stop its actions in Rafah that could inflict “conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.” The 15-judge panel cited the “immense risk” to the civilians who have sought refuge in the city.

ICJ President Nawaf Salam read the ruling from the bench at the court in The Hague. He also noted that the provisional measures the court ordered earlier this year have not completely addressed the issues in Gaza and that conditions continue to deteriorate. He cited a UN International Children’s Fund report that found approximately half of the 1.2 million refugees in Rafah are kids.

The ICJ ruling is legally binding, but the court doesn’t have any enforcement measures — and it appears Israel has no intention of obeying the order. In a statement after the decision came down, the Israeli government stated it “has not carried out and will not carry out military activity” that creates the conditions the court warned of.

Tzachi Hanegbi, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s national security adviser, told reporters that the court is only asking that Israel not “commit genocide in Rafah.” He went on to say, “We did not commit genocide and we will not commit genocide.”

In addition to the order to stop the offensive in Rafah, the ICJ ordered Israel to allow UN investigators into Gaza so it could finish its probe related to a case brought by South Africa accusing the Israeli government of genocide. It also demanded Israel’s military keep Rafah’s border with Egypt open to allow humanitarian aid in. Finally, Israel has one month to submit a report detailing the measures taken to abide by the court’s ruling.

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