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

The South African legal team at the ICJ. (Photo: via @sahouraxo Twitter page)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

Israel describes the urgent application by South Africa to the World Court to consider extending its provisional orders against Tel Aviv – regarding its plans for a ground invasion of Rafah – as an abuse of the Genocide Convention and the Court. 

Israel has requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to reject South Africa’s urgent application to the Court this week requesting it to consider additional emergency measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza.  

South Africa’s application follows the decision announced by Israel last Friday to expand its ground assault into Rafah, where more than 1 million Palestinians have been forced to seek refuge due to Tel Aviv’s military assault on the enclave. 

In a three-page response to the ICJ, Israel accuses South Africa of seeking to “misuse the Court’s provisional measures procedure” calling the application “a highly peculiar and improper request.”

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Israel described the initial application by South Africa of December 29, 2023, as “wholly unfounded in fact and law” and “morally repugnant”, adding that it “represents an abuse both of the Genocide Convention and of the Court itself.

Claiming “commitment to the observance of international law, including the Genocide Convention and international humanitarian law,” Israel argued the court had already ruled on certain measures recently and that there had been no significant changes in Gaza necessitating new measures.

Pointing Fingers at Hamas

Israel further claims that “Hamas continue to demonstrate its contempt for the law, including by refusing to release the hostages immediately and unconditionally” and that “any potential military operation is intended to target Hamas battalions in Rafah…”

South Africa on Tuesday made an urgent request to the ICJ to consider whether the decision announced by Israel to extend its military operations in Rafah, “which is the last refuge for surviving people in Gaza, requires that the court uses its power to prevent further imminent breach of the rights of Palestinians in Gaza.”

In a statement, it cited Article 75(1) of the Rules of Court which states that “The Court may at any time decide to examine proprio motu whether the circumstances of the case require the indication of provisional measures which ought to be taken or complied with by any or all of the parties.”

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The statement added that South Africa “was gravely concerned that the unprecedented military offensive against Rafah, as announced by the State of Israel, has already led to and will result in further large scale killing, harm and destruction.”

This, the statement continued, “would be in serious and irreparable breach both of the Genocide Convention and of the Court’s Order of 26 January 2024.”

Ongoing Military Assault

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. 

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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.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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