Israel rejects ICJ order to halt Rafah assault

GG News Bureau
 International Court of Justice Judge Nawaf Salam on Friday at a court ruling in response to an urgent application submitted by South Africa to halt military operation in Rafah.

Israeli officials rejected the ICJ’s order to “immediately” halt its military assault on Rafah, stated that the humanitarian situation in the Palestinian territory was “disastrous”.

South Africa justified its application to the ICJ by arguing that the court’s previous masures in connection with the Gaza war were inadequate.

Head of the National Security Council and the spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a joint statement that Israel rejected Friday’s ruling. “The charges of genocide brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice in the Hague are false, outrageous and morally repugnant”.

The statement said that “Following the horrific attack against the citizens of Israel on October 7, 2023, Israel embarked upon a defensive and just war to eliminate Hamas and to secure the release of our hostages.”

“Israel is acting based on its right to defend its territory and its citizens, consistent with its moral values and in compliance with international law, including international humanitarian law.”

“Israel has not and will not conduct military actions in the Rafah area which may inflict on the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

The statement vowed that Israel “will continue its efforts to enable humanitarian assistance and will act, in full compliance with the law, to reduce as much as possible harm caused to the civilian population in Gaza.”

According to Israeli media reports Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was discussing the decision with key Cabinet ministers.

South Africa has demanded measures against Israel several times in summary proceedings. This is part of the genocide lawsuit that the country filed with the court in December.

UN judges had obliged Israel to do everything possible to prevent genocide and to allow humanitarian aid in two emergency rulings.

The Palestinian Islamist Hamas movement welcomed the ruling.

Hamas called on the international community and the United Nations to exert pressure on Israel in a statement published on Friday..

A member of the Hamas politburo emphasized that without international pressure, the court’s decision would have no effect.

Egypt and Jordan welcomed the ICJ’s ruling and urged the UN Security Council to put pressure on Israel to end its operation.

The Palestinian Authority called for increased international pressure on Israel following the ICJ decision.

The international community should force Israel to implement the decision, it said in a statement published in Ramallah on Friday.

The authority believes that the court’s decision confirms the view that Israel is committing war crimes.

South Africa welcomed the ICJ’s decision.

African National Congress called the decision a confirmation of the principles of justice, human rights and the rule of law.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “We will not be completely free until the people of Palestine are free.”

The ICJ partially complied with demands made by South Africa in an urgent appeal.

UNSG António Guterres said decisions of the ICJ were “binding” and he “trusts that the parties will duly comply with the order from the court,” UN spokesman Stéphane Dujarric said in New York.

“In accordance with the Statute of the Court, the Secretary-General will also promptly transmit the notice of the provisional measures ordered by the court to the Security Council,” he said.

The court’s rulings are binding, it has no means of forcing compliance. It can, however, call on the UN Security Council to act.

US Department of State spokesman Matthew Miller said Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Benny Gantz, a member of Israel’s war cabinet, on Friday.

Miller said “Secretary Blinken and Minister Gantz discussed the latest efforts to achieve a ceasefire as part of a deal to release hostages and to prevent the conflict from expanding across the region,”.

Blinken reiterated that talks between Israel and Egypt must be concluded in order to reopen the Rafah border crossing as soon as possible, Miller said.

He stressed the “urgent need” to protect civilians and humanitarian workers in Gaza and to de-escalate the situation in the West Bank.

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