Top UN court to hold hearings on Rafah offensive this week


The Hague: The top UN court said it would hold hearings Thursday and Friday over South Africa’s request to impose emergency orders on Israel to halt its Rafah offensive. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague will hear lawyers from South Africa on Thursday, followed by Israel’s response the next day, it said in a statement.

Earlier this month, Pretoria petitioned the ICJ for so-called provisional measures over the incursion into Rafah, asking the court to order Israel to “immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive.” It also requested the court to order Israel to take “all effective measures” to facilitate the “unimpeded” access of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Nearly 450,000 Palestinians have been newly displaced from Rafah in recent days, and around 100,000 from northern Gaza, according to UN agencies, which warn that “no place is safe” in the territory. Ground fighting and heavy Israeli bombardments have been reported recently around Rafah as well as in Gaza City and Jabalia refugee camp in the north and Nuseirat camp in the centre.

The United States and other countries, as well as top UN officials, have warned that a full-out assault on Rafah could have a disastrous impact on thousands of refugees driven there by fighting elsewhere in Gaza, many of them living in desperate conditions. Israel has said it is attempting to keep civilian casualties to a minimum. The bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out after October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive against fighter group has killed at least 35,173 people, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

In a ruling in mid-January that made headlines worldwide, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent genocide during its Gaza offensive.

The court also ruled that Israel must allow aid into Gaza to ease the desperate humanitarian situation there.__The News