IDF Rafah operation unaffected by ICJ ruling

The court’s ruling requires only that Israel not commit genocide in Gaza, and “we did not commit genocide and will not.”

By Joshua Marks | | Topics: Gaza
An IDF solder during operational activity in Rafah, southern Gaza, on May 21, 2024. Credit: IDF.
An IDF solder during operational activity in Rafah, southern Gaza, on May 21, 2024. Credit: IDF.

The Israel Defense Forces continued to press its offensive in Rafah in southern Gaza over the weekend, with Israeli officials insisting military operations in the enclave are being conducted in conformity with Friday’s International Court of Justice ruling.

Bombardments continued on Sunday in the central and eastern sections of the city, Hamas’s last stronghold in the coastal enclave, including the shelling of entrenched terrorist elements in the Yabna refugee camp, the Palestinian Shehab News Agency reported.

Since Friday, Israeli forces had eliminated a terror cell in Rafah that fired at troops, located and destroyed several tunnel shafts and seized weapons caches, the IDF announced on Saturday.

The ICJ, the UN’s principal judicial arm, ruled by 13 to 2 on Friday that the Jewish state 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.”

In her dissenting opinion, ICJ Vice President Julia Seubtinde said that South Africa, which brought the case before the court, had failed to present substantially new facts on the ground in Rafah.

The court shouldn’t attempt to “micromanage” Israel’s military operations, wrote Seubtinde, noting that the Jewish state has been increasing aid flow into Gaza and that the court hasn’t previously required a sovereign state to allow outside observers in during a war.

“Israel’s ongoing military operations in Rafah are part of the broader conflict initiated by Hamas on Oct. 7, 2023, when Hamas attacked Israeli territory, killing citizens and abducting others,” wrote Sebutinde. “To maintain its judicial integrity, the court must avoid reacting to every shift in the conflict and refrain from micromanaging the hostilities in the Gaza Strip, including Rafah.”

Speaking with Channel 12 News on Saturday, Israel’s National Security Council head Tzachi Hanegbi noted that the court’s ruling does not require Israel to halt its operation in Rafah.

“What they are asking us is not to commit genocide in Rafah,” said Hanegbi. “We did not commit genocide and we will not commit genocide,” he added.

Israel has a right to self-defense under international law, he continued, “And the evidence is that the court is not preventing us from continuing to defend ourselves.”

Another Israeli official was quoted by the Times of Israel as saying that the phrasing of the ruling was conditional.

“The order in regard to the Rafah operation is not a general order,” the official said.

Israel began a limited operation in the eastern part of Rafah on May 6, taking operational control of the border crossing with Egypt as well as the section of the Salah al-Din Road in the city. Israeli forces have killed terrorists, seized weapons and unearthed hundreds of tunnels in the city so far, including 50 smuggling tunnels crossing into Egypt.

The operation has recently expanded to other areas of Rafah, including Yabna, Brazil and Shaboura.

According to the IDF, nearly a million noncombatants have been evacuated from the city to humanitarian zones.

After opposing a full-scale invasion of Rafah for months, including threatening to withhold arms shipments, the Biden administration softened its stance last week after being presented with evidence that Jerusalem was addressing its humanitarian concerns.

Jerusalem insists that the Rafah operation, where four of Hamas’s six remaining battalions are entrenched, is essential to defeating the terror group, which has vowed multiple repeats of the Oct. 7 atrocities.

The four Hamas battalions in Rafah are Yabna (South), Shaboura (North), Tel Sultan (West) and East Rafah.

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One response to “IDF Rafah operation unaffected by ICJ ruling”

  1. Vernon Ryan says:

    Obliterating terrorists is not genocide, it is cleansing the earth of deadly viruses.

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