Israel describes Hague order to cease attack on Rafah as ‘false, outrageous and disgusting’

International Court of Justice ruling may lead Palestinian allies to call on UN Security Council to pass a resolution to impose a ceasefire on Israel

After the UN’s top court ordered Israel to halt its military offensive in the Gazan city of Rafah, the national security council and foreign ministry issued a joint statement calling the decision “false, outrageous and disgusting” making it clear the military operation in Rafah will continue.

A statement, released following emergency consultations, rejected the order from the International Court of Justice (ICJ), saying: “Israel has not and will not carry out military operations in the Rafah area that create conditions that could lead to the destruction of the Palestinian civilian population.” It added: “Israel will continue its efforts to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip and act in accordance with the law to reduce, as much as possible, the damage to the civilian population.”

If Israel does not comply with the order, Palestinian allies are expected to call on the UN Security Council to try to pass a resolution to impose a ceasefire on Israel for all of Gaza or for Rafah specifically. Israel expects the US to veto such a motion. However, this would come at a political cost that Israel will have to pay.

Despite disappointment over the developments at The Hague, Israeli officials welcomed that fact that four of the 15 ICJ justices argued that the key operative clause in the court’s ruling does not require that Israel immediately halts all military operations in Rafah, but, rather, that it specifically halts military operations that “could bring about physical destruction in whole or in part” of the Palestinians.


Far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called on the government to reject the court ruling.

“The irrelevant order of the anti-Semitic court in The Hague should have only one answer: the occupation of Rafah, the increase of military pressure and the complete destruction of Hamas.”

Strategic affairs minister Ron Dermer, considered close to prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, said the court ruling would fuel the fires of anti-Semitism raging across the world, because people would assume the charges carry weight. “But the charges are totally false and the prosecutor didn’t even bother to learn the facts,” he said.

Israeli officials expressed concern that Friday’s developments would make it more difficult to achieve progress to release hostages – taken by Hamas during its raid on Israel on October 7th – as part of a ceasefire package. As long as a security council resolution is pending, Israel fears that there will be no incentive for Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar to renew ceasefire contacts.

Opposition leader Yair Lapid criticised the Israeli government, saying the ruling “could and should have been prevented”.

“A sane and professional government would have stopped insane ministers from expressing themselves publicly, arrested criminals who set fire to aid convoys, and conducted diplomatic endeavours quietly and efficiently,” he said.

Mr Lapid also criticised the ICJ for failing to draw a connection between its demand for an end to the fighting with a demand to return Israeli hostages held in Gaza and not addressing Israel’s right to defend itself in the face of terror.

Hamas welcomed the ICJ decision but said the court fell short of calling for an end to Israel’s offensive on all of Gaza. It also welcomed the ICJ plan to send an investigation committee into Gaza, and promised co-operation.

Jordanian foreign minister Ayman Safadi said “the court has once again exposed Israel’s war crimes in Gaza”.

Palestinian Authority spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh welcomed the ruling, saying it “represents an international consensus on the demand to stop an all-out war on Gaza”.

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss

Mark Weiss is a contributor to The Irish Times based in Jerusalem