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Part of Wider Case by South Africa Accusing Israel of Committing Genocide in Gaza; ICJ Issuing Ruling on South Africa Request to Stop Israel's Rafah Invasion; Court's Decision is Binding & Cannot be Appealed but has no way Enforcing; United Nation's Top Court Orders Israel to "Immediately Halt" Military Offensive in Rafah; ICJ Orders Israel to Stop Rafah Operations. Aired 9-9:45a ET

Aired May 24, 2024 - 09:00   ET




BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST, CONNECT THE WORLD: Well, this is the scene at The Hague, where the International Court of Justice is expected to read its

ruling on Israel's invasion of Rafah, any moment now. It is 3 pm in the Netherlands. It's 5 pm here in Abu Dhabi. I'm Becky Anderson.

For a -- good afternoon to you from here at least this is "Connect the World". Also happening over the next hour the Head of Hezbollah will

deliver a speech in tribute to the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi after he was buried in his hometown on Thursday. And CNN is following news

of a devastating landslide in a remote village in Papua New Guinea, where more than 100 people are feared dead.

And it is 9 am in New York and the stock market there we'll open in about 30 minutes from now after the DOW Jones suffered its worst day of 2024. So

far on Thursday, the futures markets, certainly indicating a higher open this Friday. Let's see where those go 30 minutes from now.

Well, we begin this hour in The Hague, where any minute now, we are set to hear a ruling on Israel's invasion of Rafah by the International Court of

Justice. It follows an emergency request by South Africa, a couple of weeks to go for Israel to hold its offensive in Gaza's southern-most city.

South Africa says Israel is quote, trapping, besieging and bombarding an overcrowded Rafah exacerbating the security and the safety of 1.5 million

highly vulnerable Palestinians. Well, this is part of a wider case by South Africa in which it accuses Israel of genocide in the Enclave, where we are

following developments closely for you.

Let's bring in CNN's Nic Robertson and Jeremy Diamond. Nic, let's start with you. This ICJ ruling is binding can't be appealed. But the court of

course also has no way of enforcing it. So where are we at? What can we expect at this point? And what impact might this ruling have?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, what the South African lawyers have been asking for is in essence, to sort of up the bar

on what the ICJ gave us a sort of a preliminary ruling, if you will, back in January the case, of course, being allegations that Israel is committing

genocide in Gaza.

And the interim ruling didn't say that Israel is committing genocide. However, it did say that Palestinians have a right to be protected from it

and said that Israel should improve the humanitarian situation avoid -- and avoid the killings of civilians.

So what South Africa is asking for here is the raise that -- language, preventative measures, they call it they've said that the IDF operation

going into Rafah. There is no safe place for people to go in is just as dangerous or even more dangerous --

ANDERSON: -- just listen in to what the judge is saying in The Hague. Let's just listen in that just started.

NAWAF SALAM, PRESIDENT OF INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE: -- 2024 in the case concerning application of the convention on the prevention and

punishment of the crime of genocide in the Gaza Strip, South Africa versus Israel. For reasons made known to me, judges, Abraham, Xue, and Iwasawa who

duly participated in the litigation and the final vote are not in a position to take --

Charlesworth, Barak, who also duly participated in the deliberations and -- I recall that on the final vote, are not in a position to take the seat on

the bench today. Charlesworth, Barak, who also duly participated in the deliberations and the final vote, is unable to join us today for family


I record that on December 29, 2023, South Africa, filed in the registry of the court and application, instituting proceedings against Israel

concerning alleged violations in the Gaza Strip.


I have obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, to which I shall refer as the Genocide Convention.

The application of South Africa contains a request for the indication of provisional measures. After hearing the parties, the court indicated

certain provisional measures by an order issued on January 26, 2024.

By a letter dated February 12, 2024 South Africa, referring to I quote, the developing circumstances Rafah, end of quote, called upon the court

urgently to exercise his power under Article 75 paragraph one of the rules of court. The registrar informed the parties of course decision in respond

to that communication by letter on 16th February 2024.

On March 6, 2024, South Africa requested the court, I quote to indicate further provisional measures and or to modify is provisional measures

indicated on January 26, 24. By an order of March 28, 2024, the court reaffirmed the provisional measures indicated in the order of January 26,

2024, and indicated certain additional provisional measures.

On May 10, 2024, South Africa submitted to the court what it described as an urgent request for the modification and indication of provisional

measures. Pursuant to Article 41 of the statute and Articles 75 and 76 are the rules of court. In accordance with usual practice, I shall not read the

introductory paragraphs or the old will set out the procedural history of the case.

I should also omit or summarize some other paragraphs. I shall therefore begin by reading the order at paragraph 20. The court begins by noting that

in its view, South Africa's present request is a request for the -- modification of the order of March 28, 2024. For the season, the courts

must determine whether the conditions set forth in Article 76, paragraph one of the rules of court have been fulfilled.

That paragraph three is as follows, I quote. At the request of a party, or property or more to the court may at any time before the final judgment in

the case, revoke or modify any decision concerning provisional measures. If, in its opinion, some change in the situation justify such revocation or

modification, end of quote.

The court must first to ascertain whether taking into account the information that the parties have provided. With respect to the current

situation, there is reason to conclude that the situation that warranted the decision set out and it's older as of March 28, 2024, has changed since

that time, that time.

If the court, find that there was a change in the situation, since the delivery of its earlier order, it will then have to consider whether such a

change justifies a modification of its earlier decision concerning provisional measures. Any such modification will be appropriate only if the

general conditions laid down in Article 41 of the status of the court were also met in this instance.

The court thus begins by determining whether there has been a change in this situation that warranted the dishes and set out in its order of March

28, 2024. The court recalls that its order of January 26, 2024, it noted that the military operation conducted by Israel following the attack of

October 7, 2023 had resulted in I quote, a large number of deaths and injuries as well as the massive destruction of homes.


The forcible displacement of the vast majority of the population and extensive damage to civilian interest such, end of quote, in its decision

communicate with the pastors by letters of 16th February 2024.

The court noted, quoting the United Nations Secretary General, that the developments in the Gaza Strip and Rafah in particular, I quote, would

exponentially increase what was already a humanitarian nightmare, with untold regional consequences, end of quote. The court further records that

in its order of March 28, 2024.

It observed with regret that the catastrophic living conditions of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had deteriorated further since January 2024,

especially in view of the prolonged and widespread deprivation of food, and other basic necessities towards the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had been


In the present order, the court notes that the catastrophic humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip, which as stated in his order of January 26,

2024, was at serious risk of deteriorating, has deteriorated and has done so even further, since the Court adopted its order of March 28, 2024.

In this regard, the court observe that the concern that it expressed in decision communicate to the parties on February 16, 2024, with respect to

the developments in Rafah have materialized, and that the humanitarian situation is now to be characterized as disasters.

After weeks of intensification of military bombardments of Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians had fled as a result of Israeli evacuation

orders, covering more than three quarters of Gaza's entire territory.

On May 6, 2024, nearly 100,000 Palestinians were ordered by Israel to evacuate the eastern portion of Rafah and relocate to Al-Mawasi and Khan

Yunis areas ahead of a planned military offensive. The military ground offensive in Rafah, which Israel started on May 7, 2024, is still ongoing,

and has led to new evacuation orders.

As a result, according to United Nations reports, nearly 800,000 people have been displaced from Rafah as at May 18, 2024. The court considers that

the aforementioned developments which are exceptionally grave, in particular, the military offensive in Rafah, and resulting, the repeated

large scale deployed displacement of already extremely vulnerable.

But exceeding the population and the Gaza Strip, constitute a change in the situation within the meaning of Article 76 of the rules of court. The court

is also of the view that provisional measures indicated in his order of March 28, 2024, as well as those reaffirm that and do not fully address the

consequences arising from the change in the situation previously explained, thus justifying the modification of these measures.

However, in order to modify earlier decision concerning provisional measures, the court must still satisfy itself that the general conditions

laid down in Article 41 of the statutes of the court met in the current -- situation. The court next turns to the condition for the indication of

provisional measures.

It records that it's orders of January 26, 2024 and March 28, 2024. It concluded that prima facie it had jurisdiction pursuant to Article 9 of the

Genocide Convention to entertain the case. The court sees no reason to revisit that conclusion for the purposes of deciding on the present



In the order of January 26, 2024, the court also found that at least some of the rights claimed by South Africa under the general chat convention,

and for which it were seeking protection were closable. Namely, the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza are protected from acts of genocide, and

related prohibited acts mentioned in Article 3.

And the right of South Africa to seek Israel's compliance with the latter's obligation under the convention. The court so no reason to revisit this

conclusion, and its order of March 28, 2024. The court likewise, sees no reason to do so, for the purposes of deciding on the present request.

It's further considered that, by their very nature, at least some of the provisional measures sold pursuant to the present request, are aimed at

preserving the rights claimed by the applicant that the court has found to be plausible. The court must next consider whether the current situation

and there's a risk of irreparable prejudice to the plausible rights claimed by South Africa and whether there is urgency.

The court records in disregard that it has previously concluded that in view of the fundamental values, so to be protected by the Genocide

Convention, the plausible rights in question in these proceedings are of such a nature, that prejudice is to them, is capable of causing irreparable


The court they call that on May 7, 2024, Israel began a military offensive in Rafah following weeks of intensified bombardment. And that as a result,

approximately 800,000 Palestinians were displaced from Rafah, as at May 18, 2024. The court notes that senior United Nations officials have

consistently underscored the immense risks associated with military offensive in Rafah.

For instance, on May 3, 2024, the spokesperson of the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warned that an assault on Rafah would

put a quote hundreds of thousands of people at imminent risk of death, end of quote, and will severely impact the humanitarian operation in entire

Gaza Strip, which is run primarily out of Rafah.

On May 6, 2024, the United Nations Children's Fund indicated that about half of the approximately 1.2 million Palestinians sheltering in Rafah,

where children and go in depth military operations that in would result and I quote, the few remaining basic services and infrastructure they need to

survive, being totally destroyed, end of quote.

The United Nation's sources indicate that the aforementioned risks have started to materialize and will intensify even further if the operation

continues. For instance, on May 8, 2024 the Director General of the World Health Organization, stated the Al Nasr Hospital, one of the last remaining

medical facilities in the Rafah governorate was no longer functional due to the ongoing hostilities in its vicinity.

On May 17, 2024, the World Food Programme warned that it had been able to access its warehouse in Rafah or if it hadn't been able to access its own

houses in Rafah for over a week and observe that I caught the incursion into Rafah is a significant setback to recent modest progress on access,

end of quote.

On the basis of information before, the court is not convinced that the evacuation efforts and related measures that Israel affirms to have

undertaken to enhance the security of civilians in the Gaza Strip.


And in particular, those recently displaced from the Rafah governorate are sufficient to alleviate the immense risk to which the Palestinian

population is exposed as a result of the military offensive in Rafah. The court observed, for instance, that according to a statement by the

Commissioner General of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the near East, Mr. Philip Lazzarini.

On May 18, 2024, I quote, the areas that people are fleeing to now do not have safe water supplies, or sanitation facilities. Al-Mawasi, as one

example, is a sandy 14 square kilometer agricultural land where people are left out in the open with little to no buildings or roads.

It lacks the minimal conditions to provide emergency humanitarian assistance in a safe and dignified manner, end of quote. The court observed

that Israel has not provided sufficient information concerning the safety of the population during the evacuation process, or the availability in Al-

Mawasi area of the necessary amount of water, sanitation, food, medicine, and shelter for the 800,000 Palestinians that have evacuated the soil.

Consequently, the court is of the view that Israel has not sufficiently addressed, and dispels the concern raised by its military offensive in

Rafah. In light of the consideration set out in the preceding sections of the order and taking account of the provisional measures indicated in its

orders of January 26, 2024 and March 28, 2024.

The court finds that the current situation arising from Israel's military offensive in Rafah, and there is a further risk of irreparable prejudice to

the plausible rights claimed by South Africa and that there is urgency in the sense that there exists a real and imminent risk that shots prejudiced

will be caused before the court gives its final decision.

The court concludes on the basis of the aforementioned considerations that the circumstances of the case require, to, modify its decision set out its

order on March 28, 2024. The court records that in accordance with Article 75 paragraph 2 of its rules, when a request for the indication of

provisional measures has been made.

It has the power under statute to indicate measures that are not in whole or in part other than those requests. In the present case, having

considered the terms of the provisional measures requested by South Africa and the circumstances of the case, the court found that the measures to be

indicated need not be identical to those requests.

The court considered that in conformity with obligations under the Genocide Convention is that it must immediately hold its military offensive and any

other action in Rafah governorate, which may inflict on the Palestinian group in Gaza, conditions of life that could bring about its physical

destruction in whole or in part.

The court records that in its order of January 26, 2024, it order Israel into area to I quote, take effective measures to prevent the destruction

and ensure the preservation of evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article 2 and Article 3 of the Genocide Convention, end

of quote.

In the present circumstances, the court is also of the view that in order to preserve evidence related to allegations of acts, falling within the

scope of Article 2 and Article 3 of Genocide Convention, Israel must take effective measures to ensure the unimpeded access to the Gaza strip of any

commission of inquiry fact finding mission or ever investigative body mandated by competent organs of the United Nations to investigate

allegations of genocide.


The court also considers that the catastrophic situation in Gaza confirm beneath for the immediate and effective employees --

ANDERSON: Right, you've been listening to Nawaf Salam, who is the presiding judge there at the world's highest court, the ICJ and he has been

delivering an order on the provisional measures in what is the Israel genocide case. This is the court's ruling an urgent request to order Israel

to hold its invasion of Rafah, and indeed, withdrawal from Gaza.

But this is a very specifically on Rafah and the court has concluded that Israel must hold its offensive immediately. Well, we have a legal analyst

to help us understand what we have heard. Dr. Rosa Freedman joins us now live. She is Professor of Law Conflict and Global Development at the

University of Reading. And I'm delighted to have you with me today. And you've been listening in to this ruling. What does today mean to you just


DR. ROSA FREEDMAN, PROFESSOR OF LAW CONFLICT AT UNIVERSITY OF READING: Well what we've heard in the ruling so far today, is that the court considers

that the situation has changed so significantly since its last hearing, and his last ruling in March. And they used words like grave destruction,

displacement. They've taken on board the evidence that South Africa has provided they seem to fully agree with that evidence.

And they specifically focused in on Rafah and on the evacuation orders and the movement up until the 18th of May was the last date with 800,000

Palestinians. And they've said that, as a result of all of this evidence, they're going to modify the provisional measures. And we can come back to

what provisional measures even means.

That they're going to modify them and immediately order Israel to force any sort of military activities or other activities that may bring about the

destruction of the Palestinian people in whole or in part. Now that phrase is talking about genocide. Genocide is a destruction of a people and hold

on caught.

They've also continued to order Israel to provide humanitarian access and assistance, which goes hand in hand with preventing this humanitarian

catastrophe. This is a really pivotal moment for the International Court of Justice. They are essentially saying that Israel's right of self-defense

can be modified by this provisional measure to prevent it going into Rafah militarily.

ANDERSON: I've got a whole bunch of questions. But let's just -- let's get through them sort of systematically here. And because this, of course, is

part of the wider case that South Africa has bought against Israel, on the question of genocide, and we should talk about how this fits into that

wider case.

But let's be very specific here. So this court has just delivered its verdict, it has concluded that Israel must hold its offensive on Rafah

immediately, as you said, it sees the situation in Gaza, deteriorating since its order in January and as described the situation there not least

as disastrous.

The court is not convinced they said that Israel has taken sufficient measures to alleviate the immense risk to which the Palestinian population

is exposed as a result of the military offensive in Rafah. The ICJ is calling for an immediate halt to operations in Rafah. This is a binding,

ruling and cannot be appealed. The ICJ of course does not have an enforcement mechanism. So what are the likely consequences of this in the

first instance?

FREEDMAN: So let's be clear, Rafah was designated as the sort of humanitarian zone. And that is why so many civilians moved to Rafah while

Israel carried out this war of self-defense, trying to find its hostages and trying to destroy the terrorist's infrastructure that had attacked it

on some of October.

And the court has focused in on Rafah as this humanitarian zone where they're supposed to be enough food, water, sanitation, humanitarian access,

and now people are being asked to evacuate once again, what the court hasn't done is what South Africa had asked it to do, which is to order

Israel to cease all military activities in Gaza and to halt the war.

So what this is marked as a ceasefire. But what this does mean is that Israel must either stop the offensive or must realize that if it doesn't

stop the military incursion into Rafah that it will be in breach of international law, that it will lose many of its allied states. Countries

may decide not to sell it weapons if they're concerned that those weapons would be used in Rafah.


So there are very serious consequences for Israel if it does fail to comply with this provisional measure. Now, of course, you can't send the bailiffs

round to a country. You can't put the country in prison. But there are other political enforcement mechanisms that come through a country's peer

through its ally, throughout the state. If Israel were to not comply with this measure, it would be another step towards it being a pariah state.

ANDERSON: How does what we have just heard today from Nawaf Salam, the presiding judge fit into this wider case that South Africa has brought

against Israel under the Genocide Convention?

FREEDMAN: South Africa alleges that Israel is perpetrating of genocide in Gaza against the Palestinians. And that case will take many years to be

heard. A report can be asked to rule on provisional measures in the time between the case being brought and the court making its ruling.

So someone alleges that money has been stolen from them. And they point to a specific bank account, the court might rule to freeze the money in that

bank account so that it's not spent in the time between the allegation and the court making a ruling. The courts original provisional measures will be

the kind of provisional measures that it's always put out in a genocide case.

It's not ruling on whether or not there is genocide. It's simply said to Israel, make sure that there's humanitarian access, try and prevent a

humanitarian catastrophe, ensure that evidence is not destroyed that investigators and independent impartial observers are allowed into Gaza.

In order to make sure that the case can't be heard one day that the evidence is there and that the Palestinian civilians are protected as best

as possible within the laws of war. Well, the court said today goes further.

It's saying that the situation in the humanitarian zone and Rafah is so dire and that the situation for the 800,000 or more Palestinians, first of

all, were displaced into Rafah as a humanitarian zone and now have had these evacuation orders and really have nowhere to go, because Egypt's not

opening its borders.

And Gaza is a very small place. And they're still fighting Khan Yunis and in Gaza City. What its saying is that if Israel were to go into Rafah

militarily, that would be going too far, and could very well implant the hearing of the case, eventually the hearing of the case, and as I say, it

takes many years at the International Court of Justice.

So it's not saying that this doesn't have a right of self-defense, but it is certainly saying that Israel does not -- is not allowed to militarily go

into an area that -- previously designated a humanitarian zone.

ANDERSON: I have to say, your insight and analysis so important, over this past, what 15 minutes or so as we had delivered the ruling on the

provisional measure from the ICJ, the ICJ, ordering Israel to hold the Rafah military offensive. And we're going to do more on this as we move

through the next hour, piling the pressure on Israel as it continues its military action, of course in Gaza.

Thank you very much indeed for joining us. We're going to bring back CNN's Nic Robertson and Jeremy Diamond, after this short break, let me take that

short break and we'll be back to discuss this further.



ANDERSON: Well, you're watching "Connect the World". I'm Becky Anderson. It is just after hour past 5 here in the UAE. And I do want to get back to our

breaking news, significant news out of The Hague in need past what 10, 15 minutes or so, the International Court of Justice the world's top court

ordering Israel to stop its operation in Rafah in the south of Gaza.

Let's bring back our CNN's Nic Robertson and with us today, Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem. Nic, let's start with you the International Court of Justice

as instructed Israel to hold its offensive in Rafah and its ruling the world court said it was and I quote them here not convinced that the

evacuation of some 800,000 people from Rafah and other measures by Israel are sufficient to alleviate the suffering of Palestinians, your thoughts?

ROBERTSON: Yeah and I think one of the damning things that we heard there, and that ruling was that U.N. officials, senior U.N. officials being quoted

about the situation on the ground, making the point that Israel was fully cognizant, through respected international bodies of precisely what was

going on in humanitarian terms inside of Rafah and the implications of Israel's actions.

You know, as he went through that whole process of legal process of reading everything that had come before, he very clearly was laying out a situation

here where Israel has failed to measure up and is now being told to stop now Israel, as we know, rejects the allegations of genocide.

But this is, if you will, an alarm bell being rung about what's happening in Rafah from the highest tallest legal building, if you will, for one of

the metaphor in the world. This is a warning to Israel that you have been warned about what you're doing. And we are now saying this has gone beyond

and the case of you must prevent, or we must help prevent genocide happening in Gaza, has now taken a more serious and consequential term.

ANDERSON: Let me bring you in, Jeremy, at this point. How is Israel likely to react?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are still waiting for the official reaction from the Israeli government to this but already we are

starting to hear from some of the far right members of the Israeli government Bezalel Smotrich, Itamar Ben-Gvir all of them kind of panning

this order.

And I think we should be very clear that there is absolutely no expectation whatsoever that Israel will actually obey this order, which is a binding

legal order, but for which the International Court of Justice has no mechanism to actually enforce. But that doesn't mean that it's just

symbolic that it's just -- and writing on a piece of paper.

It could actually result in consequences for Israel should a number of other countries. European countries, for example, choose to issue sanctions

because Israel is likely to disregard this order by the International Court of Justice. So, you know, this is a very, very significant moment, even if

it doesn't result in the actions that the court is actually ordering here in terms of halting the Israeli military offensive in Rafah.

There is no question that this will contribute to Israel's growing isolation on the world stage. As we have already watched this week with the

ICC, the other international court. The International Criminal Court, issuing or seeking warrants for the arrest of the Israeli Prime Minister

and the Israeli Defense Minister.

All of this is part of a broad picture of Israel's growing isolation on the world stage, growing international condemnation and a signal of the gravity

of the situation on the ground in Gaza.


ANDERSON: Yeah, you're making a very good point you know this is bookended hasn't it alongside the ICC request for those arrest warrants made on

Monday, a week that has been really, I don't think we should, you know, underplay just how much pressure has been applied to Israel this week by

the international community.

Let's not forget the justice. We also had three European nations deciding that they would bilaterally or unilaterally declare recognition of

Palestinian statehood as well. This has been quite a week. We will be back after this short break to both of you. Thank you very much indeed for

joining us. We will do more on this as we move through the next hour or so.



ANDERSON: You're watching Connect The World, I'm Becky Anderson just before quarter till six here in Abu Dhabi and I must recap our breaking news out

of the Hague, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to stop its operation in Rafah in the south of Gaza and ruling the World Court said it

was not convinced that the evacuation of Rafah and other measures by Israel are sufficient to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian population.

We will do more on this in the hours to come here on CNN. I'll be back at the top of the hour, with the second hour of Connect the World and before

that you'll get some sports news, stay with us.