• D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG
rotating globe
  • D.C.
  • BXL
  • Lagos
Semafor Logo
  • Dubai
  • Beijing
  • SG


May 16, 2024, 3:20pm EDT
icon

Semafor Signals

South Africa urges UN court to stop Israel assault on Rafah

Insights from The Washington Post, Financial Times, and Middle East Eye

Arrow Down
Yves Herman/Reuters
PostEmailWhatsapp
Title icon

The News

The International Court of Justice should order Israel to halt its Rafah offensive and step up efforts to protect civilians in Gaza, South Africa argued Thursday, as hearings in its genocide case against Israel got underway.

Lawyers argued before the UN’s highest court that Israel’s attack on Rafah constituted an “extreme risk” to humanitarian aid delivery, to the medical system in the enclave, and to “the very survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group.”

AD

One South African official called on the court to order Israel to “immediately, totally and unconditionally, withdraw the Israeli army from the entirety of the Gaza Strip.”

Israel will respond to South Africa’s accusations on Friday.

While the legal fight is just beginning, Israeli officials are increasingly divided on how to end the war in Gaza and who will govern the strip after the conflict is over.

AD
icon

SIGNALS

Semafor Signals: Global insights on today's biggest stories.

Experts expect the ICJ to take action against Israel

Source icon
Sources:  
The Washington Post, Middle East Eye

While the ICJ is expected to deliberate on this week’s legal arguments for some time, experts predict it will likely call for Israel to take additional steps to protect civilians. However, the court’s rulings are legally binding but not enforceable in practice, and it has already issued similar orders that Israeli officials have rejected. “They might order Israel … to do what they can to achieve a ceasefire. Or they may go further and order a ceasefire directly,” Juliette McIntyre of the University of South Australia told The Washington Post. Israel has described the case as “wholly unfounded,” and its lawyers are expected to push back against South Africa’s claims.

Divisions in Netanyahu’s war cabinet widen

Source icon
Sources:  
The Washington Post, Jewish News Syndicate, The Wall Street Journal

Tensions are high among Israel’s leadership, with defense officials and Prime Minister Netanyahu publicly sparring over the future of Gaza. Defense Minister Yoav Gallant said the only long-term solution was empowering “local Palestinian actors backed by international actors,” to avoid Israeli soldiers getting permanently stationed in Gaza. Netanyahu harshly criticized the proposal, saying “I am not willing to exchange Hamastan for Fatahstan,” a reference to Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah party. The long-standing tension between Gallant and Netanyahu means both men have sought to bypass each other on key decisions, The Wall Street Journal reported.

International peacekeeping isn’t a popular solution

Source icon
Sources:  
Al Jazeera, Financial Times

A coalition of Arab countries on Thursday called for a UN peacekeeping force to be deployed in Gaza, the latest in a series of proposals that try to envision a longer-term security solution for the enclave. US officials told the Financial Times they want to cobble together an Arab peacekeeping force, and there is no desire from the Biden administration to deploy American troops in Gaza. But Arab states are skeptical about deploying their own forces in Gaza and worried about appearing complicit with Israel or facing a Hamas insurgency themselves. So far, the different plans appear to have little momentum. “Israel is refusing to talk to anybody about it, it’s in denial. And everyone else is talking past each other,” one Western official told the FT.

Semafor Logo
AD