Tuesday, July 23, 2024

No sign Israel will change course after UN court ruling

(BBC News) This was the outcome Israel sought to avoid: a demand to halt a military operation the government regards as essential for the defeat of Hamas and the return of hostages.

But there is no immediate indication that Israel will change course as a result of Friday’s ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Its tanks are pushing closer to the centre of Rafah, and just as the decision was being read out, a series of air strikes sent a huge black cloud billowing over Rafah.

Some of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline colleagues have reacted with anger, accusing the court of antisemitism and siding with Hamas.

The government’s former spokesman, Eylon Levy, noted that the presiding judge, Nawaf Salam, was Lebanese and “couldn’t return home safely if he ruled the ‘wrong way’.”

But this is one more sign of Israel’s growing international isolation.

Consider the latest signs, even before today:

  • The prospect of arrest warrants for Netanyahu and his defence minister from the International Criminal Court
  • European countries preparing to recognize the state of Palestine
  • Mounting evidence that the Biden administration is losing patience with Israel’s refusal to engage in a meaningful plan for the future

Israel will be dismayed that its arguments didn’t appear to influence the ICJ judges.

It says it has gone to great lengths to ensure that civilians are out of harm’s way before sending troops into Rafah.

And it says it is making sure that food and other vital supplies reach Gaza.

There are elements of truth to both of these arguments. More than 800,000 civilians have moved away from Rafah.

And while it’s true that very little aid has entered the southern Gaza Strip since the Rafah offensive began almost three weeks ago, Israel has allowed hundreds of trucks of commercial goods to enter, meaning that in parts of the territory, food is available (if not necessarily affordable).

Despite repeated warnings of famine, especially in the north, mass starvation has yet to manifest itself.

If anything, the situation in the north may have improved somewhat, thanks to the opening of additional crossing points.

But the court seemed unimpressed. A fresh wave of mass displacement, it argued, represented a significant new threat to the lives and wellbeing of the Palestinian population, which demanded fresh action.



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