South Africa urges World Court to halt Israel’s actions in Gaza

South Africa appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday to intervene and stop Israel’s Rafah offensive, as part of its case accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians.

South Africa’s legal team argued that immediate action is necessary to ensure the survival of the Palestinian people.

During the hearings at the ICJ, South Africa requested additional emergency measures to protect the city of Rafah in southern Gaza, where over a million Palestinians have sought refuge.

They also called for Israel to allow unrestricted access to Gaza for U.N. officials, humanitarian organizations, journalists, and investigators, alleging that Israel has previously ignored court orders.

South Africa’s attorney, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, stated that Israel’s military actions have targeted civilians, including women and children, destroyed infrastructure, and caused widespread starvation. “From the onset, Israel’s intent was always to destroy Palestinian life and to wipe them off the face of the earth. Rafah is the final stand,” Ngcukaitobi asserted.

Adila Hassim, another lawyer representing South Africa, emphasized the urgency of the situation, urging the court to use its powers to stop Israel’s actions. “Israel must be stopped. South Africa is before you again today to respectfully ask the court to invoke its powers. ..to order a remedy that will stop Israel,” said Hassim.

Israel, which will respond to the accusations on Friday, has previously dismissed South Africa’s claims as baseless and highlighted its efforts to facilitate humanitarian aid into Gaza as per ICJ orders.

South Africa’s legal representative, Max du Plessis, criticized Israel’s declared safe zones as ineffective and cruel, citing instances where people wSouth Africa Urges World Court to Halt Israel’s Actions in Gazaere too starved to flee or attacked when they did manage to reach shelters. “There is nothing humanitarian about these humanitarian zones,” du Plessis argued, adding that Israel’s actions amount to “genocide through military attacks and man-made starvation.”

Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gilad Erdan, expressed concerns about the short notice given for the hearings, suggesting it was indicative of a flawed process.

The conflict has resulted in nearly 35,000 deaths in Gaza, according to local health authorities, and about 1,200 deaths in Israel, with 253 individuals taken hostage since the war began.

The ICJ’s current hearings focus on emergency measures to prevent escalation, while a final ruling on the merits of the case could take years. Although the ICJ’s rulings are binding, the court lacks enforcement power, but its decisions can impact a country’s international reputation and set legal precedents.

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