Netanyahu rejects calls to halt attacks on Rafah


Prospects for a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas dimmed on Sunday, while Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, also said he would not succumb to pressure to stop attacks on Gaza’s southernmost city of Rafah.

The International Court of Justice in The Hague on Friday rejected South Africa’s request to exert more legal pressure on Israel to stop an imminent offensive in Rafah, saying Israel is “bound to comply with existing measures”.

Israel remains “bound to fully comply with its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention and the aforementioned order”, reads the court’s ruling, referring to its ruling of 26 January.

Despite the rejection of his latest request, South Africa welcomed the latest ruling.

“The court confirms our view that the dangerous situation requires the immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the court in its order of January 26, which apply throughout the Gaza Strip, thus including Rafah,” pres. Cyril Ramaphosa said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Egypt is increasingly worried that an Israeli invasion of Rafah could force people trapped there across the border. Pres. On Saturday, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reiterated Egypt’s opposition to any forced transfer to the Sinai desert.

Even if a temporary ceasefire is concluded at the talks in Cairo, Netanyahu said that his troops’ ground invasion in Rafah will continue.

Countries that urge Israel otherwise are essentially “losing the war,” Netanyahu said.

Next week’s possible United Nations Security Council vote looks unlikely to advance the ceasefire effort, with the US already expressing opposition.

“The United States does not support action on this draft resolution,” the US ambassador to the UN, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said in a statement.

Algeria’s draft resolution seeks an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, but Thomas-Greenfield said the US instead supports a ceasefire-for-hostages agreement that would halt fighting for six weeks.

America’s president, Joe Biden, had “multiple calls” this week with Netanyahu, as well as Egyptian and Qatari leaders “to push this deal forward,” Thomas-Greenfield said.

Netanyahu also rejected pressure from some Western governments for the unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state.

“After the terrible massacre of October 7, there can be no greater reward for terrorism than this and it will prevent any future peace settlements,” he said.