Updated May 24th, 2024 at 20:08 IST

Order by ICJ is Ground-breaking, says South Africa

This decision follows a request from South Africa, which sought to have the court order Israel to cease its actions in Rafah.

Reported by: Sagar Kar
Israeli tanks in Gaza | Image:AP
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Judges at the United Nations' top court have mandated Israel to halt its military operations in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) issued the order on Friday, highlighting the immediate need for Israel to stop its offensive.

ICJ President Nawaf Salam delivered the ruling, indicating that the provisional measures previously set in March were insufficient to address the current situation in Gaza. He stated, “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah.

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Here is what you need to know

This decision follows a request from South Africa, which sought to have the court order Israel to cease its actions in Rafah. The request was made a week after South Africa accused Israel of genocide. South Africa reacted to the ruling by saying “the order by the world court is ground-breaking”. South Africa also added that “this order is binding and Israel has to adhere to it". 

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Israel doesn't intend to adhere to the order, as it believes it is carrying out an operation in self-defence. Outside the court, a small group of pro-Palestinian demonstrators showed their support by waving flags and playing rap music that called for a free Palestine.

A look at Israel's stance

Israel has consistently rejected the genocide accusations, labelling them as baseless. In court, Israel defended its operations in Gaza as acts of self-defense aimed at Hamas militants, who had attacked Israel on October 7. An Israeli government spokesperson stated on Thursday, “No power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza.”

Why does Rafah matter?

The Israeli military assault on Rafah began earlier this month, causing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee. Rafah, located on Gaza’s southern border, had become a refuge for nearly half of Gaza's 2.3 million residents. The city also serves as the main entry point for humanitarian aid. International organizations warn that the Israeli operations have severely restricted access to Gaza, increasing the risk of famine.

This ruling by the ICJ is a significant development in the ongoing conflict, highlighting the international community's concerns over the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Gaza.

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Published May 24th, 2024 at 19:59 IST