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ICJ orders immediate halt to Israeli occupation of Rafah – National and International News – FRI 24 May 2024 –

ICJ orders immediate halt to Israeli occupation of Rafah – National and International News – FRI 24 May 2024 –
ICJ orders immediate halt to Israeli occupation of Rafah – National and International News – FRI 24 May 2024 –

 


ICJ orders immediate halt to Israeli occupation of Rafah. Challenging Israel further erodes their international standing and ours.

ICJ orders immediate halt to Israeli occupation of Rafah

Earlier this year, South Africa filed a genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. On January 26, the court found that there was a credible threat of genocide against the Palestinians. While the Court rejected South Africa's request for an order to end Israel's military campaign in Gaza entirely, the panel issued preliminary injunctions to Israel. These orders included protecting civilian life, ensuring the flow of aid to Gaza, and ensuring the preservation of evidence needed for the genocide investigation (which would take years).

The court later reaffirmed these orders on March 28, when South Africa presented evidence that Israel was not complying with them and that the humanitarian situation in Gaza had deteriorated significantly since January.

Today, the ICJ, responding to a request by South Africa, ordered an immediate halt to Israel's military offensive in Rafah, the southernmost city of Gaza. For the past 7 months, some 1.5 million Palestinians displaced from Northern Gaza have been sheltering in tents in Rafah. Rafah was Gaza's last (relative) safe haven and the only land corridor for food, water and other humanitarian aid to enter the Strip. Since Israel began its occupation of Rafah on May 7, over 800,000 people have been displaced, most of them for at least a second time.

The court was unconvinced by Israel's assertions that it was doing everything it could to protect civilian lives and that it was allowing all possible aid to enter Gaza. The judges reiterated their order to allow aid into Gaza, unimpeded. Additionally, the court ordered Israel to allow UN investigators into Gaza to collect and preserve evidence for the Court's ongoing investigation into the genocide in Gaza. Israel has blocked UN investigators from Israel and Gaza since October 7.

The reaction and what happens next

Israeli government spokesmen stated, both yesterday and before the ICJ rulings in January, that they would not stop their military action in Rafah, regardless of what the court ruled. How to confirm thisIsrael actually increased its bombing campaign in Rafah after today's decision.

Since Israel has so far failed to meaningfully comply with previous ICJ orders, few expected today's ruling to immediately change the reality on the ground. However, recent developments suggest that Israel's challenge may now be more costly to them in terms of their international standing and that of the US.

Two days ago, Ireland, Spain and Norway committed to it officially recognizing the state of Palestine. There is talk that other EU countries may soon join them.

After today's decision, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said the EU would have to take a stand. We will have to choose between our support for international institutions of the rule of law or our support for Israel, Borrell said.

As of this writing, The White House has remained notably silent for today's decision of the ICJ. Biden has previously said he would freeze arms shipments to Israel if there was a full occupation of Rafah. Despite the invasion being in full swing, Biden's “red line” has so far failed to materialize. Rights groups are demanding that Biden halt all arms transfers to Israel in the light of the orders of the ICJ.

Israel is still at risk from another Hague Tribunal

Additionally, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (separate from the ICC) announced this week that they were seeking arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant on war crimes charges. Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan hinted that he may seek more warrants for other individuals for further charges.

If warrants are issued, ICC member states will be obliged to arrest Netanyahu or Gallant if they step on their land and hand them over to The Hague. The US is not a member state of the ICC. but all EU nations are and take seriously their commitments to such international institutions. While Israel called “civilized nations“to refuse orders, France AND Germany (usually a staunch ally of Israel) they announced WILL honor warranties if they are issued.

Meanwhile in the US, the Biden administration is working with members of Congress to craft a (possibly legislative) response to the ICC in retaliation for its charges against Netanyahu and Gallant. This answer may include sanctions on individual court officials.

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