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EU pressures Israel to obey ICJ's order to halt Rafah offensive

The European community has urged Israel to adhere to the decision of the highest United Nations court, which calls for an end to its military operation in Rafah, a city located in southern Gaza. "We take note of the order given to Israel on Friday. ICJ [International Court of Justice] orders are binding on the Parties and they have to be fully and effectively implemented," EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote on X on Saturday.

Published May 25,2024
Europe Union has put pressure on Israel to comply with the top UN court's ruling to end its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, even though Israel has said it will ignore the judgment handed down in the Dutch city of The Hague.

"We take note of the order" given to Israel on Friday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell wrote on X on Saturday. "ICJ [International Court of Justice] orders are binding on the Parties and they have to be fully and effectively implemented."

Even before the ruling, Israel had faced weeks of admonishment by the United States and European capitals over its Rafah operations due to the impact on civilians. Israel argues the assault is necessary to eliminate the Palestinian militant group Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

In his post, Borrell also highlighted the court's order for Israel to "maintain the Rafah crossing open for humanitarian assistance."

The crossing links Gaza to Egypt and has been the main conduit of getting food, medicine and other essential items into Gaza over the past seven months of war.

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares also demanded that Israel obey the "mandatory" ICJ ruling.

In a social media post, he also appealed for "a ceasefire, the release of hostages and humanitarian access."

"The suffering of the people in the Gaza Strip and the violence must end," he added.

Spain has been one of the harshest critics in Europe of Israel's actions in Gaza. Madrid suspended all arms exports to Israel shortly after Israel launched its military response to the October 7 attacks by Hamas in which some 1,200 people were killed and another 250 taken hostage.

Earlier this week, Spain, along with Norway and Ireland, said it would recognize Palestine as an independent state, enraging Israel.

In Berlin, German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck also voiced his concerns about Israel's assault on Rafah.

"The famine, the suffering of the Palestinian population and the attacks in the Gaza Strip are - as we are now seeing in court - incompatible with international law," Habeck said.

Habeck said that the German government believes "that Israel must not carry out this attack, at least not in the way it did in the Gaza Strip before, bombing refugee camps and so on."

Israel on Friday responded to the court's ruling by insisting its actions in Rafah were part of "defensive and just war" following the October 7 attacks.

In a joint statement, the head of Israel's National Security Council and a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the country "has not and will not conduct military actions in the Rafah area which may inflict on the Palestinian civilian population in Gaza conditions of life that could bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part."

"The charges of genocide brought by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague are false, outrageous and morally repugnant," the statement added.

The ICJ, following similar rulings this year on Gaza, ordered Israel to stop its actions in Rafah, citing the "disasterous" humanitarian conditions and "immense risk" to civilians.

The judgment also said that it was "not convinced" by Israel's assurances that it was doing everything possible to minimize the impact on the Palestinian population.

Before the Israeli army began its incursion, more than 1 million internally displaced Palestinians from other parts of the Gaza Strip had sought refuge in Rafah.