Fighting rages in Gaza despite ICJ ruling Israel offensive must stop

Smoke rose across Gaza as Israel continued its offensive against Hamas on Friday. 

That’s despite a ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s military offensive in Rafah must stop immediately.

The top United Nations (UN) court also ruled the Rafah border crossing must be reopened for aid deliveries but judges stopped short of ordering a full ceasefire throughout the Palestinian enclave.

Israel seized the key crossing with Egypt in early May when it launched what US officials called a “limited” operation aimed at choking off Hamas supply lines.

The new provisional measures are part of a case filed last year by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide during its Gaza campaign.

The ICJ ruling was welcomed by Palestine’s UN ambassador.

“We believe that the provisional measures of the ICJ also previously asked for stopping all military operations in the Gaza Strip and stopping these crimes and potential crimes of genocide against our people in the Gaza Strip,” said Riyad Mansour.

But displaced Palestinians in Gaza expressed frustration with the ICJ ruling which only ordered an end to Israel’s military operations in Rafah.

“It is not only the people of Rafah who are suffering. We, the people of the north, have been disgraced and humiliated. We demand a review of this decision and consideration of the request for a ceasefire in all areas of the Strip. Rafah is not the only area affected,” said Palestinian Nadia Al Debis.

More than 900,000 people have been displaced from Rafah in the last two weeks with many having little to no access to food, water or shelter. Large numbers of people had fled there amid intense fighting in the north and Israeli evacuation orders. 

But Israel, which slammed the ruling, is unlikely to comply with the court ruling. 

ICJ rulings are officially binding but have been previously ignored as the court lacks any enforcement powers. Russia, which was ordered in 2022 to halt its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, has yet to respond to its ruling.

Journalists take photos of Israel’s legal team in the International Court of Justice in The Hague, May 24, 2024

Meanwhile, the UN Security Council approved a resolution condemning attacks on humanitarian workers and UN personnel.

The vote was 14-0 with Russia abstaining.

The Swiss-sponsored resolution expressed grave concern at the growing number of attacks and threats against UN and humanitarian personnel and the disregard for and violations of international humanitarian law by combatants.

Palestinian health authorities say the death toll in Gaza now stands at at least 35,000. Most of those killed have been women or children.

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