International Court of Justice: Israel hits back on Friday


The Israeli government will be given the opportunity to respond in the International Court of Justice on Friday after South Africa’s claim that Israel escalated a campaign of “genocide” in Gaza with its invasion of Rafah.

South Africa has again approached the United Nations (UN) highest court to ask for an order to force Israel to stop its invasion of Rafah.

On Thursday in the Peace Palace in The Hague, judges heard a series of damning allegations against Israel from lawyers representing South Africa. The allegations include mass graves, torture and the deliberate withholding of humanitarian aid.

Vaughan Lowe, a lawyer for South Africa, argued that Israel’s operation in Rafah is “the final step in the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people”.

“South Africa hoped, when we last appeared before this court, to put an end to this genocidal process in order to protect Palestine and its people.

“Instead, Israel’s genocide has continued and it has just reached a new and horrific point,” the South African ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, told the court.

This time, South Africa is asking for three emergency orders – provisional measures – while the court rules on South Africa’s initial accusation that Israel is violating the UN Genocide Convention of 1948.

The South African government first wants the court to order Israel to withdraw immediately and stop its military offensive in Rafah. Second, Israel must take “all effective measures” to allow “unrestricted access” to Gaza for humanitarian aid workers, as well as journalists and investigators.

The South African government then finally asks the court to make sure Israel reports back on the measures taken to comply with the orders.

The International Court of Justice rules in disputes between states and its rulings are binding, although the court has little means of enforcing them.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that Israel “must do what we have to do” and insisted that mass evacuations in Rafah had averted a “humanitarian catastrophe”.

The UN agency for Palestine refugees, UNRWA, said on Wednesday that 600,000 people have fled Rafah since military operations were stepped up amid fighting and heavy Israeli bombardment in the area.

However, South Africa says: “By attacking Rafah, Israel is attacking the ‘last refuge’ in Gaza, and the only remaining area of ​​the strip that has not yet been substantially destroyed by Israel”.