Israeli Officials Assert Operations in Rafah Will Continue Despite ICJ Ruling

Seats of the judges at the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

By Yoni Weiss

An ambiguously worded ruling by the International Court of Justice does not rule out continued military operations in Rafah, Israeli officials said on Sunday, with one analyst saying Israel’s refutation of claims of “genocide” should end the ICJ’s jurisdiction once and for all.

From its seat in The Hague, the ICJ issued an emergency ruling on Friday, with Lebanese Judge Nawaf Salam, president of the court, calling on Israel to “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.”

While the ruling was approved by a vote of 13-2, four of the court’s 15 judges interpreted the ruling to mean the Israel Defense Forces may continue their activities in Rafah against Hamas as long as the operations do not carry a risk of genocide. This was the view expressed by Israeli ad hoc Judge Aharon Barak and ICJ Vice President Judge Julia Sebutinde of Uganda, who voted in the minority. Supporting that interpretation were Judges Georg Nolte of Germany and Bogdan Aurescu of Romania.

South African Judge Dire Tladi interpreted the ruling as a ban on “offensive” army operations but left the door open to “defensive” activities in response to Hamas attacks.

The other 10 judges did not make their views clear on the matter.

Suggesting that Israel will continue its activities in Rafah, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told Channel 12 on Motzoei Shabbos, “What they are asking us is not to commit genocide in Rafah. We did not commit genocide and we will not commit genocide.”

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