Home News Israel’s defense of Rafah operation ‘limited and localized’ in UN court

Israel’s defense of Rafah operation ‘limited and localized’ in UN court

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Israeli government lawyers on Friday defended military action in Rafah as “limited and localized” and argued before the United Nations’ top court that judges should not seek to limit Israel’s actions in Gaza.

At a hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Israel responded to South Africa’s petition to the court, asking it to order an immediate halt to ground attacks on Rafah.

Over the past week and a half, Israeli forces have advanced into the outskirts of Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah, ordering mass evacuations and intensifying bombing ahead of a long-awaited invasion of the city. According to the United Nations, more than 630,000 people have fled the area, many of whom have been displaced from other parts of Gaza.

The hearings are part of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Submitted in December. In late January, the court Orders Israel to take more action to prevent acts of genocide, but the main case on whether genocide occurred is not expected to be heard until next year.

Last week, South Africa asked a judge to issue an emergency order aimed at preventing mass civilian harm in Rafah. lawyer: South Africa argued in court on Thursday Israel’s Operation Rafah is “the final step in the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people.”

The court has been unable to enforce its order, but the South African case intensifies international pressure on Israel to rein in its operations in Gaza. It is unclear when the court will rule on South Africa’s request for an emergency order.

On Friday, Israel’s Deputy Attorney General for International Law, Gilad Noem, reiterated Israel’s strong denial that it is committing genocide in Gaza. He said Israeli authorities were working to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid and protect civilians amid heavy fighting across the enclave, including Rafah.

“Israel is taking steps to try to deal with the enormous complexities presented by this situation,” Mr. Noem told the judge. “That is why there was no large-scale attack on Rafah, but rather specific limited and localized operations premised on evacuation efforts and support of humanitarian activities.”

Israeli leaders say the invasion of Rafah is necessary to overthrow Hamas’ rule in Gaza. According to the Israeli military, there are four battalions of Hamas militants in the city. The Palestinian armed group still holds more than 130 living and dead hostages, including at least 130, since the October 7 attack on Israel that triggered the Israeli war. Some hostages are trapped in the city. Gaza.

But the prospect of a massive ground invasion of Rafah amid hundreds of thousands of displaced civilians has prompted sharp criticism from the international community, including from the Biden administration.After Israel begins advancing into region, President Biden says Washington Some weapons will be impounded If Israel launches a full-scale attack on densely populated areas.

Mr. Noem argued that the courts risked “micromanaging the operational aspects of armed conflict.” He said calling for a ceasefire would only tie Israel’s hands because Hamas – an armed group rather than a state – is not subject to the jurisdiction of the court.

South Africa also asked the court on Thursday to order Israel to ensure greater access for aid workers, investigators and journalists in Gaza. Noem said the Israeli judicial system is working hard to combat alleged wartime misconduct, and that since the war began, military prosecutors have opened 55 criminal investigations into possible violations by the Israeli military.

Human rights groups argue that the Israeli military is unable to conduct credible investigations of itself and that soldiers who kill Palestinians in controversial circumstances rarely face significant punishment. Israel’s leading human rights monitor B’Tselem fired Israeli authorities have previously investigated possible violations of the laws of war as a whitewash.

Israeli officials filed a lawsuit accusing South Africa of acting as a “legal arm” for Hamas, which led the deadly Oct. 7 attack. Last week, Hamas said a delegation of its officials attended the meeting in Johannesburg. Hamas posted a photo on social media of its spokesman Bassem Naim speaking with South Africa’s Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor.

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