ICJ orders Israel to “immediately stop” Rafah offensive


South Africa brought the case to the ICJ last year alleging that the Israeli offensive in Gaza violated the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, a charge firmly denied by Israel.

In a January 26 ruling that made headlines around the world, the ICJ ordered Israel to do everything possible to prevent acts of genocide during its military operation in Gaza.

But South Africa has since returned to the ICJ several times arguing that the dire humanitarian situation in Gaza forces the court to issue new emergency measures.

The court did so in March, ordering new measures compelling Israel to ensure the “unimpeded delivery at scale” of humanitarian aid.

In public hearings last week, South Africa’s ambassador, Vusimuzi Madonsela, alleged that “Israel’s genocide has continued apace and has just reached a new and horrific stage.”

“Although the present request was prompted by the unfolding situation in Rafah, Israel’s genocidal attack throughout Gaza has intensified in recent days, which also deserves the attention of this court,” he said.

South Africa argued that the only way to allow humanitarian aid to ease the crisis in Gaza was a complete cessation of Israel’s military operations.

The court will take months, if not years, to rule on the broader South African genocide case, but may order urgent measures while it weighs its decision.

Israel countered that the South Africa case was an “obscene exploitation of the most sacred convention” and that the picture Pretoria presented to the court was “completely divorced from the facts and circumstances.”

“It makes a mockery of the heinous accusation of genocide,” top Israeli lawyer Gilad Noam said at the hearings.

“Calling something genocide, over and over again, does not make it genocide. Repeating a lie does not make it the truth,” he added.

Israel also said it was “well aware” of the suffering of civilians in the Gaza Strip and had made “great efforts” to increase the flow of humanitarian aid.

US President Joe Biden stated this week that “what is happening is not a genocide.”

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