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ICJ's Rafah Ruling Indicates How Seriously It Considers Humanitarian Situation In Gaza: Expert

24.05.2024 21:42

'Israel will doubtless reject the court's rulings, claiming that it is fighting for its existence,' International Crisis Group expert Joost Hiltermann tells Anadolu.

The International Court of Justice's (ICJ) order for Israel to immediately halt its military operations in Rafah indicates how seriously the court considers the humanitarian situation in Gaza, an expert said.

Friday's decision came after Israel launched a ground offensive on May 6 in Rafah, where more than 1.5 million Palestinians have sheltered from Tel Aviv's war on the enclave.

The UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) estimates that more than 800,000 people have fled the city since the start of the Israeli assault.

The ICJ also called on Israel to maintain the Rafah crossing open for unhindered access to basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

The order, adopted by the panel of 15 judges in a 13-2 vote, came after it was requested by South Africa as part of its case accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention in the conflict that has killed more than 35,000 Palestinians in Gaza, leveled much of the territory and led to food shortages.

The decision is telling how the court "considers Israel's resistance to satisfactorily implementing its previous order in January that Israel take preventive measures to address the humanitarian situation," International Crisis Group expert Joost Hiltermann told Anadolu.

For the potential consequences of the decision, Hiltermann said: "The court cannot enforce its own legally binding rulings, so these rulings are largely symbolic, yet they add to Israel's international isolation, which could add to existing pressures on Israel to use legally permitted methods of warfare."

"Israel will doubtless reject the court's rulings, claiming that it is fighting for its existence," he added.

"Yet, even if this is so, this does not allow Israel to use any means at its disposal. "

"The Palestinians are also fighting for their existence, and they also must abide by international rules." he added.

The ICJ also ordered Israel to open the Rafah border crossing, provide "unimpeded access" to investigators looking into allegations of genocide, and report back on the progress within one month.

After the ICJ decision, Hiltermann said he expects a hardening of the Israeli government's extreme right wing alongside increasing pressure from War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, "who are slightly more to the centre of Israeli politics for (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu to change his policy in Gaza."

"In the end, only the United States can exert the kind of pressure that will bring real change in that policy, though," he concluded. -

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