Israel, international jurists – Rafah op not forbidden by ICJ ruling

The wording is open to interpretation and the IDF will continue to root out Hamas in Rafah.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Israel will continue its operation to root out the Hamas terrorist brigades in Rafah, backed by international jurists who say Friday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) does not forbid it.

Almost all initial reports on the ICJ decision concentrated on the first part of a key sentence, that Israel must “halt its military offensive and any other actions in the Rafah Governate.”

However, the sentence went on to qualify the order, by saying “which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

“What they are asking us is not to commit genocide in Rafah,” National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi explained to Channel 12 Saturday. “We did not commit genocide and we will not commit genocide,” and therefore the fight will continue.

International law allows nations the right to defend themselves, he continued, “and the evidence is that the court is not preventing us from continuing to defend ourselves.”

Israel has allowed some 400,000 tons of humanitarian aid into Gaza since the war began, papered Gazan neighborhoods and made well over 100,000 personal phone calls with warnings for civilians to flee before their areas became battle zones, all in an effort to save innocent lives.

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Specifically in Rafah, the departure to safe zones of more than 100,000 civilians in the border area with Egypt was facilitated by the IDF before it began a pinpoint incursion to take over the vital corridor to prevent Hamas from continually rearming itself through the smuggling tunnels there.

Israel has also succeeded in getting at least another 850,000 people to leave safely as it slowly broadens its battle zones in the city, utterly disproving the South African charges at the ICJ of attempted genocide.

Even this qualified ruling was opposed by Israeli Judge Aharon Barak and the vice president of the ICJ, Ugandan Judge Julia Sebutinde.

Sebutinde wrote specifically that people should not mistake the decision as one “mandating a unilateral ceasefire in Rafah” or “restricting Israel’s ability to pursue its legitimate military objections, while leaving its enemies, including Hamas, free to attack without Israel being able to respond.”

“This measure does not entirely prohibit the Israeli military from operating in Rafah,” she wrote. “Instead, it only operates to partially restrict Israel’s offensive in Rafah to the extent it implicates rights under the genocide convention.”

Two others justices, Georg Nolte of Germany and Bogdan Aurescu of Romania, seemingly agreed with this interpretation in their own writings, although they voted in favor of the plaintiffs.

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The South Africans, Jordan, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority immediately celebrated the decision as a victory, demanding that the world now enforce the supposed “order” for Israel to immediately cease the war in Gaza.