Israel subverts all international laws and rulings in its attack against Rafah

Israel has intensified its attacks on Rafah in complete violation of the interim order of International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday, asking it to stop all attacks inside Rafah and open the border for greater humanitarian aidMay 27, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch

Palestinians perform funeral of victims of massacre in Rafah (Photo via Quds News Network/X)

At least 40 people, mostly women and children, were killed and scores of others were injured when Israel bombed a tent camp for displaced Palestinians in Rafah late in the evening on Sunday, May 26. 

The tent camp in Tal al-Sultan was recently built by UNRWA to shelter the Palestinians forced to move by Israeli forces from other parts of Rafah, and was a designated “safe zone,” Wafa News Agency reported.

At least eight Israeli missiles struck the camp in the late evening, when most were sleeping in the tents, causing a massive fire. According to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) hospitals in the region were already overcrowded and were in no position to handle all the injured in the attack.  

Videos and visuals of tents burning and people desperately trying to locate their loved ones in the chaos circulated on social media, along with a ghastly video of a headless body of a child, which volunteers pulled from the rubble.

The attack sparked worldwide condemnation, with even close allies such as France asking Israel to stop the attacks on Rafah. 

Several Arab countries demanded immediate UN Security Council intervention to stop the Israeli genocide of Palestinians. 

Chris Gunness, spokesperson of UNRWA told Al Jazeera that, “we are now seeing blatant disregard for the genocide convention. There is no exception to the Genocide convention. There are no excuses. This is a crime of crimes.”

Jeremy Corbyn wrote on X, “Palestinian children should wake up feeling excited to go to school and play with their friends. Instead, for those murdered in Rafah, their last moments on this earth were filled with unimaginable fear as bombs rained down on their tents. What a monstrous failure of humanity.

Ever since the beginning of the month, Israel has increased its attacks on Rafah, ignoring all the warnings and appeals made by the world community. It had ordered the evacuation of several eastern parts of Rafah, forcing nearly 800,000 Palestinians to relocate to new areas near the coast which do not even have basic facilities. 

Four days ago @IDF told Palestinians in Rafah to move to an area it calls “Block 2371,” designating it a “safe area.” This is the area “Israel” just bombed REFUGEE TENTS, carrying out a massacre.

— Ali Abunimah (@AliAbunimah) May 26, 2024

After claiming that the attack on Rafah was a response to Hamas’ attack, Israel termed it “very grave” and announced it has constituted an investigation in the attack on Tal al-Sultan in Rafah. 

More than 36,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed by Israel in the 233 days of the war. The Israeli war has also injured over 81,000 other Palestinians so far. At least 160 Palestinians were killed in Israeli bombings in different other parts of Gaza on Sunday alone.

ICJ asks Israel to cease attacks, open Rafah borders 

Sunday’s attack was part of Israel’s increased assault on Rafah, particularly since the International Court of Justice (ICJ), as a provisional measure, asked Israel to stop such an attack on Friday. According to the Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor, Israel has struck Rafah at least 60 times since the ICJ order. 

The ICJ, in its interim order, had asked Israel to stop its attacks and open the border crossing with Egypt, which has been shut by it since May 7, hampering the flow of humanitarian aid in the war ravaged region. 

The ICJ issued a provisional measure asking Israel to comply with the Genocide Convention and “immediately halt its military offensive and any other action in Rafah governorate which may inflict upon the Palestinian group in Gaza conditions of life that would bring about its physical destruction in whole and in part.”

The decision was backed by 13 out of the 15 judges in the ICJ. 

The court also asked Israel to submit a report on the measures taken to implement the order within a month. 

The court was not convinced that Israel has taken enough measures to “enhance the security of civilians in the Gaza strip, and in particular those recently displaced from Rafah” as claimed by Israeli counsel during the hearing on the request made by South Africa in the court. 

Though ICJ orders are binding, Israel has refused to abide by them so far. Reacting to the judgment on Friday, Israel called it “outrageous, morally repugnant and disgusting.”

The provisional measures were granted in response to South Africa’s request made on May 10 under its original petition seeking action against Israel for its violations of Genocide Convention during the ongoing war in Gaza.

This was the third interim measure ordered by the ICJ since South Africa filed the petition in December. The Court issued an interim order in January asking Israel to take measures to prevent genocide in Gaza and increase aid delivery. A similar order was passed in March as well. 

Rafah is a narrow region in the southernmost tip of Gaza. Its population density has drastically increased, as it now shelters nearly 1.4 million people, over half of the total population of Gaza. Most of these people have been forcibly displaced by Israeli airstrikes and ground offensives in other parts of Gaza since the beginning of the genocidal war in October of last year.