UN court orders Israel to halt Rafah offensive in Gaza

Judges at the UN's top court on Friday ruled that Israel must immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gaza city of Rafah, citing the "immediate risk" of harm to the Palestinian people.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) found the situation in Gaza had deteriorated since the court in March ordered Israel to take urgent steps to alleviate the humanitarian crisis.

Reading out the decision in a case brought by South Africa, ICJ president, Nawaf Salam, said conditions had been met for new emergency measures.

The court, which sits in The Hague in the Netherlands, was not convinced that evacuation of Rafah – refuge to about half of Gaza's 2.3 million people – and other measures by Israel were alleviating suffering of Palestinians.

The ICJ ordered Israel to take measures to ensure unimpeded access into the Gaza Strip for investigators and fact-finding missions wishing to gather evidence.

Israel must also keep the Rafah crossing open for "unhindered" aid, and submit a report on the measures taken within one month.

The ICJ's ruling is likely to increase mounting international pressure on Israel more than seven months into the Gaza war.

While orders are legally binding, the court has no police to enforce them.

Read more on RFI English

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