‘Extreme Urgency’ – South Africa Files Urgent Request to ICJ over Gaza Starvation

South Africa has asked the Court to order urgent measures in the Gaza Strip. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

South Africa says the urgent application has been necessitated by widespread starvation in the Gaza Strip, which has claimed the lives of at least 15 children.

South Africa has once again filed an urgent request with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the provisional measures the Court ordered on January 26, to be strengthened to prevent a catastrophic famine in the besieged Gaza Strip. 

The urgent application has been necessitated by widespread starvation in Gaza, which has claimed the lives of at least 15 children in the past week alone, with the actual numbers believed to be much higher,” the South African presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.

A New Leading Cause of Death in Gaza: Starvation and Lack of Food

It stressed that United Nations experts warn that “the number of deaths will increase exponentially unless military activities are halted and the blockade is lifted.”

In its new request, the ICJ said, South Africa stated that it is “compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza — particularly the situation of widespread starvation — brought about by the continuing egregious breaches of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide . . . by the State of Israel . . . and its ongoing manifest violations of the provisional measures indicated by this Court on 26 January 2024”.

It requested the Court to indicate further provisional measures and/or to modify the provisional measures indicated in its Order of 26 January 2024 … “in order urgently to ensure the safety and security of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, including over a million children”, the ICJ stated.

Without a Hearing

South Africa has urged the Court to do so without holding a hearing, in light of the “extreme urgency of the situation.”

Among the measures requested by South Africa to be either indicated and/or modified are “an immediate halt” to “hostilities” and for Israel to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

On December 29, 2023, South Africa approached the ICJ seeking an order to prevent Israel from committing genocide against the Palestinian people.

On 26 January 2024, the Court ruled that South Africa’s claim met the standard of plausibility and, on the request of South Africa, ordered Israel inter alia, to take action to prevent and punish genocide, incitement to genocide, and to enable the immediate and effective provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance to besieged Gaza.

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These ‘Provisional Measures’ were issued by the Court to prevent irreparable and irreversible harm to the rights of Palestinians pending the Court’s final decision on the case.

“Regrettably, Israel has not complied with the Court’s binding Order, but has instead escalated its genocidal acts against the Palestinian people,” the Presidency said.

Rafah Threat

On February 15, 2024, following a letter to the Court from South Africa in response to Israel’s threatened assault on Rafah, the Court reminded Israel that “the perilous situation [in Rafah] demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated” by it on 26 January 2024, which included Israel’s obligation to ensure ‘the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip’.

“Israel’s ongoing failure to immediately and effectively implement the Court’s Order and comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, as well as its contempt for the Court, is manifest,” the Presidency emphasized.

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As a result, the statement continued, “the dire situation of Palestinians in Gaza that gave rise to that Order has worsened in all respects. The world has watched in horror as over two million people in Gaza face famine.”

It stressed that “Time is running out for the Palestinians. It is already too late for the 30,000 people who have lost their lives in Gaza since the start of the conflict.”

It added that the world “has an obligation to do whatever can be done immediately to stop further suffering and loss of life,” as the threat of all-out famine “has now materialized”.

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South Africa urged the court to “act now to stop the imminent tragedy by immediately and effectively … The people of Gaza cannot wait.”

More than 30,700 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7. 

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 30,717 Palestinians have been killed, and 72,156 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7.

Moreover, at least 7,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

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Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

 Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire.’

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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