ICJ to Israel: Cease Your Incursion in Rafah

However, Israel isn't likely to comply with mandate from UN's top court on Gaza
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 24, 2024 9:06 AM CDT
UN's Top Court Orders Israel to Cease Rafah Incursion
Placards reading "Nobody is free until Palestine is free" are laid out for demonstrators outside the Peace Palace, rear, housing the International Court of Justice at the Hague in the Netherlands on Friday.   (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

The top United Nations court has ordered Israel to halt its military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. Israel insists it has the right to defend itself from Hamas militants and is unlikely to comply with the ruling. The order by the International Court of Justice further ratchets up international pressure on an increasingly isolated Israel to rein in its war on Hamas in Gaza, per the AP. Friday's decision marked the third time this year the 15-judge panel has issued preliminary orders seeking to rein in the death toll and alleviate humanitarian suffering in Gaza.

Criticism of Israel's conduct in the war in Gaza has been growing—even from its closest ally, the United States, which warned against an invasion of Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have sought refuge from fighting elsewhere. This week alone, three European countries announced they'd recognize a Palestinian state, and the chief prosecutor for another UN court requested arrest warrants for Israeli leaders, along with Hamas officials. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is also under heavy pressure at home to end the war. Thousands of Israelis have joined weekly demonstrations calling on the government to reach a deal to bring the hostages home, fearing that time is running out.

While the ICJ has broad powers to order an end to the Israeli military campaign and any such ruling would be a blow to Israel's international standing, it doesn't have a police force to enforce it. In another case on its docket, Russia has so far ignored a 2022 order by the court to halt its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Israel signaled it, too, would brush off the ICJ. "No power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza," government rep Avi Hyman said in a press briefing Thursday. More here.

(More Israel-Hamas war stories.)

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