Israel's isolation on the global stage is growing

The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to immediately end its military operation in Rafah, in an apparent warning that the offensive could create conditions that could be interpreted as potentially genocidal.

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Demonstrator yesterday in The Hague in front of the International Court of Justice, Photo: Reuters
Demonstrator yesterday in The Hague in front of the International Court of Justice, Photo: Reuters
Disclaimer: The translations are mostly done through AI translator and might not be 100% accurate.

Judges at the United Nations' top court yesterday ordered Israel to immediately halt its military assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, in a historic emergency ruling in a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide. The decision represents the strongest warning yet to Israel that its offensive risks creating conditions that could be characterized as potentially genocidal.

Although the International Court of Justice (ICJ), or World Court, has no way of enforcing its order, the case is a stark indicator of Israel's global isolation over its campaign in Gaza, especially since it launched an offensive in Rafah earlier this month despite pleas from its closest ally, the United States. . It is also the third major blow to Israel on the global stage in the past week and underscores the risk for Israel and its leaders in the face of growing international displeasure over their conduct.

Reading the decision, ICJ President Nawaf Salam said the situation in the Palestinian enclave had worsened since the court last ordered Israel to take steps to improve it, and that the conditions for a new emergency order had been met.

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photo: REUTERS

"The State of Israel should immediately suspend its military offensive and any other actions in Rafah that may impose living conditions on the Palestinian group in Gaza that could lead to its physical destruction in whole or in part," he said.

The British "Guardian" points out that in the recent practice of international humanitarian law, the phrase "in whole or in part" began to be interpreted as a so-called "quantitative criterion" - the question of when the extent of potential loss of life and physical means of living reaches the threshold of genocide, in conjunction with by the question of intention.

Israel, as Reuters points out, has not explained how it will preserve the population during the evacuation of Rafah, or provide food, water, sanitary conditions and medicine for the 800 Palestinians who have already fled before Israeli forces, he said.

The ICC ordered Israel to open the Rafah border crossing between Egypt and Gaza to allow humanitarian aid to enter. Israel must provide access to investigators and report on its progress within a month, the statement added.

The order was adopted by a panel of 15 international judges with 13 votes in favor and two against. Judges from Uganda and Israel were against it.

South Africa hailed the decision as historic.

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photo: REUTERS

The internationally recognized Palestinian Authority said it represents a global consensus that the war must end, although the president's spokesman said it does not go far enough because it does not stop the fighting in other parts of Gaza.

Senior Hamas official Bassem Naim told Reuters: "We call on the UN Security Council to immediately implement this request of the World Court into practical measures to force the Zionist enemy to implement this decision."

Israel reacted angrily. The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced yesterday that South Africa's accusations against Israel are "false, outrageous and heinous". It said that Israel's campaign has not and will not "lead to the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population in Rafah" and that it will allow aid to enter Gaza "in accordance with the law".

The State of Israel should immediately suspend its military offensive and any other actions in Rafah, which may impose living conditions on the Palestinian group in Gaza that could lead to its physical destruction in whole or in part, MLA President Nawaf Salam said.

Far-right Finance Minister Bezazel Smotrich said that those who demand that Israel stop the war also demand that it cease to exist, which Israel will not agree to.

Israeli opposition leader Yair Lapid called the MPS order "a moral collapse and a moral disaster" because the demand for an end to the fighting is not linked to the demand for the release of hostages held by Hamas.

Regarding yesterday's decision of the ICJ, the European head of diplomacy, Josep Borel, said: "What will be the EU's response to the verdict of the International Court of Justice that was passed today, what will be our position? We will have to choose between our support for international institutions of the rule of law and our support for Israel ".

The order came a week after South Africa made the request in a case accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, which was adopted after the Holocaust.

The ICJ, based in The Hague, is the UN's highest body for disputes between states. The judgments of the ICJ are final and binding, but they have been ignored in the past, because the court has no power to enforce them.

Israel has repeatedly dismissed the accusations of genocide as baseless, arguing in court that its operations in Gaza were self-defense and that the targets were Hamas militants who attacked Israel on October 7.

A spokesman for the Israeli government said ahead of yesterday's decision that "no force on Earth" will prevent Israel from protecting its citizens and attacking Hamas in Gaza.

Yesterday in front of the Court building in The Hague, a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators chanted for a free Palestine while holding up Palestinian flags.

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photo: REUTERS

Israel launched an armed assault on Rafah earlier this month, forcing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee the city, which has served as a haven for about half of its population of 2,3 million.

Rafah, a city on the southern edge of Gaza, has also been a major route for aid flows, and international organizations say the Israeli operation has cut off the enclave and increased the risk of famine.

Israel claims that Rafah serves as a last refuge for thousands of Hamas fighters and their commanders and that it cannot achieve its war objective of destroying the Islamist militant group and rescuing hostages unless it storms the city.

So far, fighting has taken place on the southern edge and eastern parts of Rafah, but Israel has not yet launched an attack on the main populated part of the city. Its closest ally, the US, has repeatedly urged Israel not to do so, saying that Israel has yet to present a credible plan for how it can be carried out without causing mass casualties among the displaced people who have taken refuge there.

South African lawyers last Sunday asked the ICJ to order an immediate end to the operation in Rafah, saying it must be suspended to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people.

South Africa is also seeking an order for Israel to end the wider war in the Gaza Strip, a step the court is still holding back on, Reuters reports.

Yesterday's decision came a few days after the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) - a tribunal also based in The Hague - announced that he had requested an arrest warrant for Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Galant, as well as the leader of Hamas.

Prosecutor Karim Khan accused Netanyahu and Galant of crimes including extermination, using starvation as a weapon and deliberately targeting civilians. Israel has rejected such accusations and called on allies to reject the court.

In a broader case brought before the ICJ by South Africa, Israel is accused of having organized state genocide against the Palestinian people, the ICJ did not rule on the merits of that accusation but rejected Israel's request to dismiss the case.

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