Israel: ICJ orders end to Rafah offensive and access to Gaza for fact-finding missions

Israel: ICJ orders end to Rafah offensive and access to Gaza for fact-finding missions - Protection

After an Israeli air strike on the east of the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestine, 8 May 2024. Photo: Anas-Mohammed / Shutterstock

ARTICLE 19 welcomes today’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruling ordering Israel to immediately halt its military offensive in Rafah, Palestine, and to ensure the Rafah crossing remains open for humanitarian assistance. We also welcome the order for Israel to allow unimpeded access to Gaza for UN fact-finding missions and to other bodies mandated to investigate allegations of genocide. The ability to independently collect and preserve evidence will be key for future accountability efforts. We call on Israel to immediately implement all ICJ measures. 

On 24 May, the ICJ delivered its order on the modification and indication of additional provisional measures requested by South Africa in its genocide case against Israel as a result of Israel’s military assault on Rafah and the catastrophic humanitarian situation across Gaza. ARTICLE 19, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and other human rights and press freedom organisations issued a joint statement in support of South Africa’s request to order access to Gaza for fact-finding missions and journalists. 

We commend the ICJ’s order against Israel to ‘take effective measures to ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza Strip of any commission of inquiry, fact-finding mission, or other investigative body mandated by competent organs of the United Nations to investigate allegations of genocide’. With the humanitarian situation in Gaza continuing to deteriorate at an alarming speed, and new evidence of potential international crimes continuing to emerge, this is an important step towards ensuring adequate assessment of the situation on the ground, enabling effective documentation and collection of evidence, and supporting accountability efforts. 

It is imperative that Israel immediately implement the measures ordered by the Court. At the same time, Israel must go much further to uphold its obligations under international human rights and humanitarian law. We reiterate our call that Israel refrain from imposing further communication blackouts in Gaza; protect journalists’ right to report, ensure their safety and promptly investigate all attacks on them; grant international and local journalists independent access to Gaza; and ensure all international and local media outlets can operate freely, including in Gaza. 

Israel’s continuing assault on freedom of expression means that potential breaches of international human rights, international humanitarian and international criminal law continue to go unrecorded, perpetuating impunity and closing off any possible pathways to hold those responsible to account.