ICJ orders Israel to halt its Rafah military offensive in Gaza


THE HAGUE: The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ordered Israel to halt its military assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Reading out a ruling by the ICJ, the body’s president Nawaf Salam said provisional measures ordered by the court in March did not fully address the situation in the besieged Palestinian enclave now, and conditions had been met for a new emergency order.

“Israel must immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah, he said.

The court backed a South African request to order Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah, a week after Pretoria called for the measure in a case accusing Israel of genocide.

Outside, a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators waved flags and played a rap on a boom box calling for a free Palestine.

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 Oct 7.

An Israeli government spokesman said on the eve of Friday’s decision that “no power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza”.

Israel launched its assault on the southern city of Rafah this month, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee a city that had become a refuge to around half of the population’s 2.3 million people.

Israel’s operations in the enclave have killed more than 35,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s health ministry. Gaza’s population is around 2.3 million.

The focus of the latest fighting is Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost city.

Israel’s assault on Rafah on Gaza’s southern edge has set hundreds of thousands of people fleeing what had been a refuge for half of the enclave’s population. It has also cut off the main access routes for aid into Gaza, drawing international fears of mass casualties and famine.

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