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“Genocide” committed by Israel “has reached a horrible level”, denounces South Africa

Photo: Peter Dejong Associated Press South Africa's representatives Vusimuzi Madonsela, seated right, and Cornelius Scholtz, seated left, talk before the start of the hearing at the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, Netherlands, on 16 May 2024.

Charlotte Van Ouwerkerk – Agence France-Presse in The Hague

Published yesterday at 4:38 p.m. Updated yesterday at 4:51 p.m.

  • Middle East

“The genocide” committed by Israel “has reached a horrific level,” South Africa told the UN’s highest court on Thursday, asking judges to order Israel to cease its incursion into Rafah.

“South Africa had hoped, when we last appeared before this court, to bring an end to this genocidal process in order to preserve Palestine and its people,” said Vusimuzi Madonsela, the representative of Pretoria, the administrative capital and seat of the government of South Africa.

“Instead, Israel's genocide has continued apace and has just reached a new and horrible level,” he added.

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Pretoria lawyers, who are calling on judges to order a ceasefire in Gaza, kicked off two days of hearings at the Peace Palace, seat of the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Israel, which rejects the South African accusations, will respond to them on Friday. He has previously highlighted his “unwavering” commitment to upholding international law and called the case brought by South Africa “totally baseless” and “morally repugnant”.

In a ruling in January, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything in its power to prevent any act of genocide and allow the entry of humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip.

But the court did not go so far as to order a ceasefire. However, for Pretoria, the evolution of the situation on the ground – in particular the operation in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip – requires a new order from the ICJ.

< p>The Israeli operation in Rafah “is the latest step in the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people,” said Vaughan Lowe, a South African lawyer.

“It was Rafah who brought South Africa to court. But it is all Palestinians as a national, ethnic and racial group who need the protection from genocide that the Court can order,” he added.

The orders of the ICJ, which decides disputes between states, are legally binding but it has no means of enforcing them.

South Africa South is asking the ICJ for three new emergency measures while it waits for it to rule on the merits of the case, the accusation that Israel is violating the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention.

First, it wants the court to order Israel to “immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive” in Rafah.

Israel should also take “all effective measures” to allow “unhindered access” to Gaza for humanitarian workers, as well as journalists and investigators.

Finally, the South African state calls on the ICJ to ensure that Israel reports on measures taken to comply with the orders.

“Permanent ceasefire”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has sworn to annihilate Hamas, is determined to launch a major ground offensive in Rafah, where he says the last battalions are entrenched of the Palestinian Islamist movement.

Israel announced Thursday that its army would “intensify” its ground operations in Rafah, despite international warnings against a major offensive in the crowded city in the Palestinian territory.

According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), 600,000 people have fled Rafah since the intensification of military operations.

« as the main hub of humanitarian aid to Gaza, if Rafah falls, so does Gaza,” South Africa said in its request.

“The blockade humanitarian aid can only be seen as a deliberate extinction of Palestinian lives,” said lawyer Adila Hassim, visibly moved.

Pretoria stressed that the only way to implement existing court decisions was a “permanent ceasefire in Gaza”.

Israeli military operations in Gaza were launched in retaliation for the October 7 Hamas attack in Israel that killed more than 1,170 people, most of them civilians, according to an AFP report based on official Israeli data . More than 250 people were kidnapped.

The Hamas Ministry of Health announced on Thursday a new death toll of 35,272 in the Gaza Strip since the start of the war between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist movement.

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116