ICJ Responds to South Africa’s Request regarding Rafah – What It Means

The Hague-based International Court of Justice. (Photo: ICJ website)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

The International Court of Justice said on Friday that it is aware of the “perilous” situation in the city of Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, though it has not accepted South Africa’s request for additional urgent measures.

“The Court notes that the most recent developments in the Gaza Strip, and in Rafah in particular, ‘would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences’,” the Decision read, quoting remarks made by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at the General Assembly on February 7.

“This perilous situation demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024, which are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, and does not demand the indication of additional provisional measures,” the Court said, adding that, 

“The Court emphasizes that the State of Israel remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order, including by ensuring the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.” 

Israeli Offensive in Rafah – South Africa Submits Urgent Request to ICJ

Legal Opinion 

In order to understand the meaning and legal repercussions of the ICJ statement, the Palestine Chronicle spoke with International Law expert Triestino Mariniello, Professor of Law at Liverpool John Moores University, and a member of the legal team for Gaza victims at the International Criminal Court (ICC).

“True, the Court did not recognize additional provisional measures, but I think the Decision is very important,” Professor Mariniello said.

“The Court used unprecedented strong language by quoting Guterres as saying that a ground invasion ‘would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare’. In other words, the ICJ is warning Israel against the ground invasion,” Mariniello added.

“Additionally, it states that the situation ‘demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures’. I think that the Court is telling Israel that, so far, it is not complying with the provisional measures already issued.”

Mariniello continued, 

“Finally, it orders Israel to ensure the ‘safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip’. This, in my view, would exclude any military operation not only in Rafah but in the entire Strip. How can you ensure the ‘safety and security’ if not by stopping any military operation?”

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 28,775 Palestinians have been killed, and 68,552 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. 

‘Improper’- Israel Urges ICJ to Reject South Africa’s Urgent Rafah Request

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.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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