‘Groundbreaking’ – South Africa Welcomes ICJ Ruling on Rafah, Other Reactions

The ICJ ordered Israel to halt its military operations in Rafah. (Photo: via CIJ_ICJ TW Page)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

South Africa has welcomed what it calls a “groundbreaking” ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Friday’s ruling followed a request by South Africa for additional provisional measures against Israel including to halt its offensive in Rafah, withdraw its forces, and ensure unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza.

“This order is groundbreaking as it is the first time that explicit mention is made for Israel to halt its military action in any area of Gaza, this time specifically in Rafah,” said Zane Dangor, Director-General of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO).

“While legally the court cannot use the term ceasefire, as well we could not call for the term ceasefire, this is de facto calling for a ceasefire. It is ordering the major party in this conflict to end its belligerent action against the people of Palestine. This is a groundbreaking decision by the court,” Dangor said.

South Africa’s President, Cyril Ramaphosa, also welcomed the ruling, saying: “We are gravely concerned that Israel has restricted necessary levels of aid from entering Gaza and has systematically targeted aid and aid infrastructure within Gaza.”

“This case is thus focused on the ordinary Palestinians in Gaza who are now facing their seventh month of suffering through collective  punishment for something for which they have no individual responsibility.”

“South Africa remains concerned that the United Nations Security Council has so far not succeeded in stopping the human suffering,” he emphasized.

International Court of Justice Orders Immediate Halt of Israel’s Operation in Rafah – BREAKING

Further Orders

The World Court’s judges also ruled that the Rafah crossing be kept open “for unhindered provision at scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance” as well as for Israel to take “effective measures to ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza Strip of any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission or other investigative body mandated by competent organs of the United Nations to investigate allegations of genocide.”

Israel was also ordered to submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to the ruling, within one month “as from the date of the Order.”

In its Order, the Court emphasized that “the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip which, as stated in its Order of 26 January 2024, was at serious risk of deteriorating, has deteriorated, and has done so even further since the Court adopted its Order of 28 March 2024.”

The military ground offensive in Rafah, which Israel started on May 7, 2024, “is still ongoing and has led to new evacuation orders,” the Court said. “As a result, according to United Nations reports, nearly 800,000 people have been displaced from Rafah as at 18 May 2024.”

The Court was also of the view that “the provisional measures indicated in its Order of 28 March 2024, as well as those reaffirmed therein, do not fully address the consequences arising from the change in the situation, thus justifying the modification of these measures.”

Here are more reactions:


The Palestinian Resistance Movement said it “welcomes” the ICJ decision but added that ‘We had expected the International Court of Justice to issue a decision to stop the aggression and genocide against our people throughout the entire Gaza Strip, not just in Rafah.”

“What is happening in Jabaliya and other governorates of the Strip is no less criminal and dangerous than what is happening in Rafah,” the movement said in a statement.

Hamas called on the international community and the United Nations to pressure Israel “to immediately comply with this decision and to seriously and genuinely proceed in translating all UN resolutions that force the zionist occupation army to stop the genocide it has been committing against our people for more than seven months.”

The movement affirmed that the international community and all relevant UN institutions, particularly the UN Security Council, “are concerned and obligated not to allow this fascist entity to continue its disregard for all international laws and conventions and to escape accountability and punishment.”

“They are all facing a historic responsibility to achieve the principle of international justice and to commit to supporting our people’s right to freedom and self-determination and the establishment of the Palestinian state with Al-Quds as its capital,” the statement stressed.

European Union

Josep Borrell, the European Union’s foreign affairs chief reportedly said: “What is going to be the (EU’s) answer to the ruling of the International Court of Justice that has been issued today, what is going to be our position? We will have to choose between our support to international institutions of the rule of law or our support to Israel.”

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu

According to Reuters, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry issued a joint statement, saying: “South Africa’s accusations against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague regarding ‘genocide’ are false, outrageous and disgusting. Israel has not and will not carry out a military campaign in the Rafah area that creates living conditions that could lead to the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population, in whole or in part.”

Israeli Opposition Leader, Yair Lapid

“The fact that the court in the Hague did not make the connection in its ruling between the cessation of fighting in Rafah and the return of the hostages and Israel’s right to defend itself against terrorism is a moral collapse and a moral disaster,” Lapid reportedly said, according to Reuters.

Israeli Finance Minister, Bezalel Smotrich

Smotrich said on X: “Those who demand that the State of Israel stop the war, demand that it decree itself to cease to exist. We will not agree to that.”

He added: “We continue to fight for ourselves and for the entire free world. History will judge who today stood by the Nazis of Hamas and ISIS.”

Israeli National Security Minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir

Following the ruling, Ben-Gvir quoted former Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, saying: “Our future does not depend on what the Gentiles will say, but on what the Jews will do”.


The Egyptian Foreign Ministry in a statement reportedly called on Israel “to comply with its legal obligations within the framework of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and international humanitarian law, and to implement all interim measures issued by the ICJ, which are considered legally binding and enforceable, as they are issued by the highest international judicial body.”


Norwegian Foreign Minister, Espen Barth Eide, said, according to Reuters: “I expect Israel to carry out the measures that have been ordered. Respect for the court and its functions, including the authority to order interim measures, is essential to strengthening international law and the international legal order.”


Belgian Foreign Minister, Hadja Lahbib, said on X: “The ICJ orders Israel to stop its military offensive in Rafah. (Belgium) calls for immediate implementation of the decision. The violence and human suffering in Gaza must stop. We call for a ceasefire, the release of the hostages and negotiations for two States.”

Oxfam International

“Oxfam welcomes the ICJ’s order as a critical intervention to stop Israel’s military onslaught on Rafah, which has displaced more than 800,000 people, and an affirmation of the right to life of the Palestinian people,” the organization said in a statement.

“The Israeli Government must immediately comply with the Court’s ruling and halt its brutal offensive on Rafah and the rest of Gaza. It must also release its stranglehold on the aid pipeline, allowing the 4,500 banked-up trucks in Al-Arish to reach people with desperately needed food, water, and medicine.

“All states have a legal and moral responsibility to ensure Israel complies with this order, and that the hundreds of thousands of people sheltering in Rafah are protected.

“States arming this Israeli offensive are now defying the ICJ ruling, and are complicit in any war crimes committed in Gaza. They must stop supplying weapons immediately, and instead press harder for an immediate and unconditional ceasefire to prevent further bloodshed, and to ensure the safe return of all hostages and unlawfully detained Palestinians.”

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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