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UN Court Orders Israel To Halt Rafah Offensive

The United Nations (UN) International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled on Friday that Israel must immediately halt military operations in Rafah, the southernmost region of Gaza.

Israel has begun initial military operations in Rafah as part of the last phase of the war with Hamas to eliminate the terrorist group’s remaining battalions in the region. In the first formal ruling issued since the Israel-Hamas war began on Oct. 7, The ICJ demanded on Friday that Israel “must immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in the Rafah,” citing the impact it may have on the civilian population in the region.

The ruling will likely prompt a second UN Security Council (UNSC) vote on whether to call for an “immediate ceasefire” in Gaza, according to Axios. The UNSC voted for a similar resolution in March, and the Biden administration chose not to veto the vote out of support for a ceasefire.

It is unlikely that Israel will comply with the ICJ’s ruling, according to Axios. The ICJ has limited abilities to enforce its rulings outside of the Hague.

The ICJ said Friday that the humanitarian situation in Rafah has become “disastrous,” pointing to the more than 800,000 Palestinians who have been displaced from the region over recent weeks amid IDF operations, according to Axios. Israel has said that it has taken several steps to ensure refugees are evacuated into “humanitarian zones” along the coastline of Gaza to the West, but the ICJ claimed Friday that it doesn’t believe these efforts are enough to ensure civilian safety.

The ICJ is currently deliberating on a case brought forward by South Africa alleging that Israel is committing “genocide” in Gaza. The court made a preliminary ruling in January that Israel must take immediate steps to avoid genocide in Gaza, but stopped short of demanding that Israel stop its counteroffensive completely.

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