Israel unlikely to comply International Court’s orders of halting Rafah offensive

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In a significant ruling on May 24, 2024, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) mandated Israel to immediately cease its military operations in Rafah, a region in southern Gaza, although the directive stopped short of demanding a complete ceasefire. This development escalates the international scrutiny on Israel following comments from key Israeli officials indicating a probable non-compliance with the court’s decision.

Israel’s Stance on Rafah Offensive

Benny Gantz, a prominent member of the Israeli War Cabinet, expressed that the military campaign in Rafah would persist, underscoring the country’s intent to continue what he described as a “just and necessary campaign” following severe attacks on Israeli citizens. Despite the international legal pressure following the ICJ’s order, Gantz emphasized Israel’s commitment to conduct military operations in alignment with international laws and to protect civilians, not directly as a response to the ICJ, but reflective of the nation’s values.

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s administration also responded to allegations of genocide in Gaza, branding such accusations as “false, outrageous, and morally repugnant.” The statement clarified that Israel would avoid any military actions in Rafah that could potentially lead to the severe detriment of the Palestinian civilian population.

ICJ orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive but stops short of full ceasefire.

ICJ orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive but stops short of full ceasefire.

Global Reactions and Diplomatic Movements

The ICJ’s lack of enforcement capabilities notably limits the practical impact of its orders. In addition to the cessation of the offensive, the court urged Israel to reopen the Rafah border crossing, crucial for aid and civilian movement, yet refrained from enforcing a broader ceasefire across Gaza.

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In a related development, the United States and Egypt reached an agreement to facilitate the transfer of UN-provided humanitarian aid through the Kerem Shalom crossing in Gaza. This agreement, praised by US President Joe Biden, aims to mitigate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, with Egypt’s President al-Sisi committing to allow the temporary flow of aid into the region.

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Implications and Outlook

The ICJ’s decision, though legally binding, faces significant enforcement challenges, reflecting the complexities of international law in geopolitical conflicts. Israel’s anticipated non-compliance could further isolate the country on the global stage, potentially increasing diplomatic pressures and economic sanctions. Meanwhile, the humanitarian agreements, such as the one between the US and Egypt, may provide some relief but are unlikely to significantly alter the overarching tensions in the region.

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