International Court of Justice orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague ruled today/Friday that Israel must end its attack on Rafah. According to the United Nations court, the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian city has deteriorated since the court's last decision and is now considered “catastrophic".

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to stop its military assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The case was brought to the ICJ by South Africa as part of a larger case the country has taken to the court about Israel's actions in Gaza.

Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the court, said that the measures ordered by the court in March were not sufficient anymore because the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian border town has deteriorated. So a new emergency order was necessary. “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah, he declared.

The judge emphasised the humanitarian risks of the military offensive in Rafah, where some 800,000 Palestinians are displaced. He stated that the Palestinian people were at an "immediate risk".

The court thus supported the South African request to impose emergency measures, saying Israel’s attacks on Rafah must be stopped to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people. South Africa’s wider case accuses Israel of orchestrating a genocide against the Palestinian people.

Israel has repeatedly dismissed the case’s accusations of genocide as baseless, arguing in court that its operations in Gaza are self-defence and targeted at Hamas militants who attacked Israel on 7 October.

Israel is unlikely to comply with the court's new order because the ICJ has no enforcement powers. An Israeli government spokesperson recently declared that “no power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza”. However, the ruling does further increase international pressure on Israel.

Nawaf Salam, president of the International Court of Justice © BELGA PHOTO Robin van Lonkhuijsen / ANP / AFP


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