The Hague Court orders Israel to stop the Rafah offensive: “Risk of genocide”. Hamas rejoices, Netanyahu summons ministers

The International Court of Justice in The Hague has ordered Israel to end the military offensive in Rafah, the southernmost city of the Gaza Strip where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians are crowded, and where the state Hebrew estimates that many Hamas leaders and dozens of people are in hiding. hostages. The UN court's decision comes in response to an urgent request submitted by South Africa as part of its legal offensive against Israel. At the end of January, the Court issued a first verdict, ordering Israel to take a series of “effective and immediate” measures to prevent, in accordance with the relevant UN convention, a risk of genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza. , while refraining from qualifying the current Israeli offensive with this delay and prescribing its cessation. Four months later, with the growing military pressure around Rafah, now comes the demand to stop the war machine at least in this densely populated area, given the “disastrous” humanitarian situation. “In accordance with the International Convention for the Prevention of Genocide, Israel must immediately cease its military offensive and any other actions in Rafah Governorate that could inflict living conditions on the Palestinian population of Gaza that would result in their physical, total or destruction. partial,” said court president Nawaf Salam, explaining the sentence.

Hostages, aid, investigations: the Court’s other requests

The Rafah order was passed by the Court by an overwhelming 13-2 majority: only the judges from Uganda and Israel itself were against it. The verdict also calls on the Jerusalem authorities to allow the entry of humanitarian aid through the Rafah crossing, to grant unhindered access to the Gaza Strip to the Court's investigators in order to gather evidence of possible war crimes and to report on progress in this direction within one month. . The Hague court then requested – this injunction of revolt against Hamas – also the “immediate and unconditional” release of the dozens of hostages still imprisoned in Gaza as of October 7, 2023, highlighting the serious concerns about their fate. Among the requests submitted last week, South Africa asked the Court to order Israel to end the entire military operation in the Gaza Strip, ensure safe access and free movement of UN officials, humanitarian workers and journalists, and to report to the Court on the measures taken. taken to comply with these instructions.

The reactions of Israel and Hamas

Immediately after the verdict was released, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a meeting with top ministers, from Defense Minister Yoav Gallant to Foreign Minister Israel Katz, to prepare the response. However, before Netanyahu, it was the Minister of National Security and leader of the settler right Itamar Ben Gvir who reacted bluntly to the Hague verdict: “The anti-Semitic judgment of the Hague Court, irrelevant , should have only one response: the occupation of Rafah, increasing military pressure and the complete destruction of Hamas, until complete victory in the war is achieved,” Ben Gvir said , cited by the Israeli newspaper Ynet The reaction was the opposite from Hamas, which welcomed the Court's decision on Telegram, adding however that what it ordered is still not enough, because “the end of offensive throughout Gaza” is necessary. South Africa also welcomes the decision of the United Nations Court, which defines today's decision as “stronger” than the previous one in January. On a practical level , the Court does not have the necessary tools to directly enforce its decisions, and Israel, like the United States, does not recognize its jurisdiction. However, any UN member state can submit an additional request – of political value – to the Security Council to order the implementation of the decisions of the Hague Court.

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