ICJ: “Israel must immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah”

Israel must immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah Governorate which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague gave its conclusions on 24 May after South Africa’s urgent request for provisional measures on 10 May 2024.

This new measure is delivered “in conformity with Israel’s obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and given the worsening conditions of life faced by civilians in the Rafah Governorate”.

Maintain open the Rafah crossing and give access to fact-finding missions

The second point of the new provisional measures ordered by the ICJ is to “maintain open the Rafah crossing for unhindered provision at the scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.” This requirement also applies to the whole of the Gaza Strip.

Thirdly, “Israel must take effective measures to ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza strip of any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission, whatever investigative body mandated by competent organs of the United Nations to investigate allegations of genocide”.

The State of Israel must submit a report to the Court within one month. The Court has recalled that its provisional measures have binding effect and create international legal obligations to any party to whom the provisional measures are addressed.

The ICJ and the ICC, two different jurisdictions

This decision comes after the announcement, on 20 May 2024, of the request for arrest warrants against five Israel and Hamas leaders by the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), a jurisdiction that is different from the ICJ.

The ICJ is the principal judicial body of the United Nations, established in 1945 to settle disputes between states in accordance with international law. It’s also referred to as the World Court. Unlike the ICC, ruled by the Rome Statute, it does not try individuals and its rulings do not result in criminal convictions or prison sentences.

The current affair, named “South Africa vs Israel”, started on 29 December 2023, when South Africa filed a complaint against Israel for “genocide” in Gaza.


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