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Palestine Report

Sameera Casmod |
19 February 2024 | 11:13 a.m. SAST
3 min read

In response to a request from the United Nations General Assembly in 2022, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) is set to commence hearings today to examine the legal implications of the prolonged Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

The case, which will be held over several days, aims to address whether the decades-long occupation can still be classified as such under international law.

“Occupation is usually regarded as something temporary in international law. When something is dragged on for more than 50 years, what legal status does it hold? And can it still be considered an occupation, or has it moved to another legal category altogether and needs to be dealt with with much more seriousness?” Moulana Ebrahim Moosa explained in this week’s segment on Radio Islam International earlier today.

More than fifty countries are slated to participate in the proceedings. The case comes in the wake of South Africa’s case of genocide against Israel, and one week before Israel is due to submit a report to the ICJ detailing measures it has taken to improve conditions in Gaza.

In private discussions, Israeli officials have expressed concerns regarding the potential impact of a legal ruling that criticises their occupation policies. There is apprehension that such a ruling could lead to the classification of settlements as international war crimes. This, in turn, could trigger actions such as arms embargoes against Israel and the imposition of personal sanctions on settlers.

The confluence of this legal challenge with the South African genocide case, suggests that the fallout may extend beyond the legal realm. Analysts warn that the repercussions could ripple through international relations and diplomacy, posing significant risks to the Israeli state.

Meanwhile, Israel is threatening to invade and expand military operations into Rafah, a town south of Gaza near the Egyptian border.

The area, originally home to about 250 000 people, is now a refuge for over 1 million Palestinians seeking safety from ongoing Israeli attacks.

The humanitarian situation in Rafah is exceedingly dire, with people struggling to obtain basic resources and necessities, Moulana Moosa reported.

“There’s not enough space… Some Palestinians are taking their families and living in chicken cages because there’s just not enough space or not enough tents for people to reside in…Netanyahu [is meanwhile] upping the ante, saying that Israel is going to fight until it reaches a total victory, and that also includes a full-scale operation in Rafah,” Moulana Moosa said.

Netanyahu has rejected global criticism, indicating that to desist from an attack on Rafah would be admitting to defeat.

Benjamin Gantz, a member of the Israeli Knesset, said yesterday that his army will invade Rafah, even if it happens in the month of Ramadhan.

“[Benny Gantz] says that Hamas has a choice. They can surrender, release the hostages, and in this way, the citizens of Gaza can celebrate the holy holiday, as he called it, of Ramadhan. I don’t know how one would be able to celebrate anything in these circumstances. And he says that if by Ramadhan our hostages are not home, the fighting will be extended to Rafah,” Moulana Moosa said.

Egypt warned that the imminent military invasion of Rafah will jeopardise their peace treaty with Israel, but this has been labelled as a tactic to improve their image.

“What really matters regarding the Egyptian stance is what is happening behind closed doors in intelligence coordination meetings and in other capitals… And there are now extremely strong signals that Egypt has already reached a semi-finalised agreement on receiving the Palestinians of Gaza in Egyptian territory… Satellite imagery released within the week [has shown] that the Egyptians are building a concrete wall and a kind of buffer zone within Sinai to be able to receive probably up to 100 000 Palestinians,” Moulana Moosa reported.

This proves, according to analysts, Netanyahu’s broader plan to depopulate Gaza. But Palestinians in Rafah, who have been displaced numerous times, have stated their determination to stay where they are.

Moulana Moosa underscores the importance of questioning the credibility of Netanyahu’s stated plans because Israel has demobilised many reservists in the past week and thus do not have the military force to implement their attack on Rafah. Additionally, the Israelis “have their hands tied in other parts of Gaza”, making an attack on Rafah unlikely.

In the West Bank, Israel is seeking to bar Palestinian residents from Masjid Al-Aqsa during the month of Ramadhan, Israeli Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir said on Saturday. Described as the archenemy of Masjid-al Aqsa, Ben Gvir also proposed that Palestinians above 70 years of age from within 1948 Palestine would be allowed into the Masjid. “There is also a separate proposal that Israeli security forces deploy quite heavily throughout the month of Ramadan inside Masjid al-Aqsa,” Moulana Moosa said.

This will serve to further intensify tensions in the area, Moulana Moosa noted, and some parties, including the United States, have voiced concerns about Israel’s plans to broaden the scope of its onslaught.

Listen to the Palestine Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat.


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