Top UN court to hold hearings on Rafah offensive this week

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The top UN court said it would hold hearings Thursday and Friday over a request from South Africa 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.

For the latest updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, visit our dedicated page.

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, said UN agencies which warn that “no place is safe” in the territory.

The bloodiest ever Gaza war broke out after Hamas’s October 7 attack on Israel, which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Militants also seized about 250 hostages, 128 of whom Israel estimates remain in Gaza, including 36 the military says are dead.

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

The ICJ was set up to rule on disputes between states and while its judgements are legally binding, it has little means to enforce them.

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For example, the court has ordered Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine, to no avail.

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