NewsICJ orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive amidst intense debate

ICJ orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive amidst intense debate

Israel is to halt the offensive in Rafah ordered MTS.
Israel is to halt the offensive in Rafah ordered MTS.
Images source: © East News | JALAA MAREY

3:07 PM EDT, May 24, 2024

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has ordered Israel to halt its offensive in Rafah. "Those who demand that the State of Israel stop the war, demand that it decree the cessation of its existence — we will not agree to that," Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich said on Friday.

The ICJ issued the order as a provisional measure in the framework of a case brought against Israel by South Africa, which accuses Israel of committing genocide against the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip.

"The State of Israel embarked on a just and necessary campaign after a brutal terrorist organization massacred our citizens," said War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz. He added that Israel is "obligated to continue fighting to return its hostages and ensure the safety of its citizens." He also announced that Israel will" continue to act according to international law in Rafah and wherever we operate, and make an effort to avoid harming the civilian populations."

Opposition leader Yair Lapid criticized the ICJ's decision, stating that the court's failure to link the issue of ending the military operation in Rafah with the release of hostages and Israel's right to defend itself against terror is an extreme moral failure.

"There should only be one answer to the irrelevant order of the antisemitic court in The Hague: the occupation of Rafah, the increase of military pressure and the complete defeat of Hamas," wrote National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir on X.

Netanyahu responds

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would hold consultations with his ministers regarding the ICJ's decision on Friday evening Eastern Time.

The court issued the injunction, citing a "direct threat" to the civilian population in the southern Gaza Strip. Israel has been conducting an operation in Rafah since early May aimed at dismantling the remaining organized Hamas units there. The operation has already worsened the dire humanitarian situation in the region, forcing close to 1 million civilians to evacuate.

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