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Halt Rafah Offensive, orders ICJ. No Power On Earth Can Stop Us, Says Israel

"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."
ICJ orders halt to Rafah offensive. Israel refuses
A man carrying a rifle looks at pictures of hostages kidnapped during the deadly October 7 attack by the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at Dizengoff Square in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 24, 2024. (Marko Djurica/REUTERS)

Israel was ordered by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday to halt its military assault on the city of Rafah in the Gaza  Strip. Tel Aviv remains defiant.

Here are some reactions:

Hamas Official Basem Naim: “We welcome the decision by the World Court that calls on the Zionist occupation forces to end its military aggression on Rafah. We believe it is not enough since the occupation aggression across the Gaza Strip and especially in northern Gaza is just as brutal and dangerous.

Palestinian Authority Spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh:“The presidency welcomes the decision issued by the International Court of Justice, which represents an international consensus on the demand to stop the all-out war on Gaza.”

Israel Prime Minister’s Office And Foreign Ministry, Joint Statement: “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.”

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich: “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.”

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid: “The ICC arrest warrants are a complete moral failure, we cannot accept the outrageous comparison between Netanyahu and (Hamas leader) Sinwar, between the leaders of Israel and the leaders of Hamas.
“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.”

Former U.N. Envoy Danny Danon: “As ICJ judges in The Hague deliberate in comfort and return to their families, 125 hostages languish in tunnels. Israel will not cease the war until our hostages are brought back home and Hamas is completely defeated.”

War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz: “The State of Israel set out on a just and necessary campaign following the brutal massacre of its citizens, abhorrent sexual violence perpetrated against its women, kidnapping of its children and rockets fired at its cities. The State of Israel is committed to continue fighting to return its hostages and promise the security of its citizens – wherever and whenever necessary – including in Rafah.

Israeli Government Spokesperson Before The Ruling: “No power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza”.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa: “South Africa welcomes the order handed down by the International Court of Justice today. 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.

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EU’s Top Diplomat Josep Borrell: “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.”

Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib: “The @CIJ_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.”

Global Rights Compliance NGO: “The ruling today serves as another admonishment of Israel’s flagrant disregard for international law and the obligation to protect civilians in conflict.

Jordan Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi: “Once again, the ICJ exposes Israel’s war crimes in Gaza. And once again, the Israeli Govt reacts with disdain to Int’l law, refusing to heed the Court’s orders. The SC (Security Council) must shoulder its responsibility, put an end to Israel’s impunity & to double standards in enforcing Int’l law.”

Reed Brody, War Crimes Prosecutor: “The ICJ has stepped up to the plate with an historic decision that responds to the escalating gravity of the situation in Gaza. The court has crossed a threshold, for the first time, by ordering Israel to halt specific military operations as well as to open the Rafah crossing and other crossings and allow access to international fact-finding missions.

Egyptian Foreign Ministry: “Egypt calls 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: “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.”

Saudi Arabian Foreign Ministry: “Saudi Arabia welcomes the decision issued by the International Court of Justice ordering Israel to immediately stop the military offensive or any other actions in Rafah, in accordance with the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.”

Turkish Foreign Ministry: “We welcome the interim decision … ordering Israel to halt its attacks on Rafah in Gaza and immediately open the Rafah border gate to humanitarian aid. No country in the world is above the law. We expect all decisions taken by the Court to be quickly implemented by Israel. To ensure this, we invite the U.N. Security Council to do its part.”

Council On American-Islamic Relations: “We applaud this binding order by the United Nations’ top court demanding an immediate end to Israel’s slaughter and forced displacement of Palestinian civilians in Rafah.

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In a career spanning over three decades and counting, I’ve been the Foreign Editor of The Telegraph, Outlook Magazine and The New Indian Express. I helped set up rediff.com’s editorial operations in San Jose and New York, helmed sify.com, and was the founder editor of India.com.

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