Israeli strike on Rafah shows 'contempt' for ICJ ruling: African Union

Palestinians gather at the site of an Israeli strike on a camp for internally displaced people in Rafah on May 27, 2024, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas militant group. PHOTO | AFP

What you need to know:

  • Israel has dismissed the ruling, insisting that the court had got it wrong.

Nairobi. An Israeli air strike on Rafah that killed 45 people in a displacement camp according to Hamas officials reflected "contempt" for a recent ruling by the top UN court, the head of the African Union Commission said Monday.

"With horrific overnight airstrikes killing mostly Palestinian women & children... the State of Israel continues to violate international law with impunity and in contempt of an ICJ (International Court of Justice) ruling two days ago ordering an end to its military action in Rafah," Moussa Faki Mahamat said on X, formerly Twitter.

"The ICJ order must be urgently enforced if global order is to prevail," he added.

In a case brought by South Africa alleging that the Israeli military operation amounts to "genocide", the ICJ on Friday ordered Israel to halt its Rafah offensive, and demanded the release of hostages and the "unhindered provision" of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

The Hague-based ICJ, whose orders are legally binding but lack direct enforcement mechanisms, also instructed Israel to keep open the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, after Israel's seizure of the Palestinian side earlier this month effectively shut it.

Israel has dismissed the ruling, insisting that the court had got it wrong.

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

Militants also took 252 hostages, 121 of whom remain in Gaza, including 37 the army says are dead.

Israel's retaliatory offensive has killed at least 35,984 people in Gaza, mostly women and children, according to the Hamas-run territory's health ministry.