SA seeks ‘urgent Court order’ for Gaza

Henry

On Friday, South Africa’s government turned again to the International Court of Justice (IC) to obtain an urgent court order for the protection of Palestinians in Gaza against “gross and irreparable violations of their rights under the United Nations Convention on Genocide”.

This is in response to Israel’s ongoing military assault on Rafah.

Vincent Magwenya, spokesman for the president, says the urgent application follows Israel’s increased attack against Rafah and it poses “severe risks to humanitarian supplies, basic services to Gaza, the survival of the Palestinian medical system and the survival of Palestinians in Gaza “.

“South Africa maintains that the attack on Rafah worsens the situation and causes irreparable damage to the rights of Palestinians in Gaza. The situation has changed significantly since the court order on 28 March 2024.”

The IG ordered Israel at that time to make sure that urgent humanitarian assistance reaches people in the Gaza Strip. The IG in The Hague said in his order that Palestinians in Gaza no longer only experience a risk of starvation, but starvation is already present.

“Rafah is home to 1.5 million Palestinians. It is the last refuge in Gaza for those displaced by Israel’s actions. It is the last viable center for state administration and the provision of basic services, including medical care,” says Magwenya.

Since the start of military action in Rafah, Israel has taken control of the Rafah and Kerem Shalom crossings, effectively controlling all traffic in and out of Gaza. “All essential humanitarian and medical supplies, goods and fuel are being cut off. “In addition, Israel has also prevented medical evacuations and treats evacuation zones as extermination zones, as evidenced by the destruction of hospitals in Gaza and the discovery of mass graves in other major healthcare facilities in the Gaza Strip,” he adds.

South Africa therefore requests urgent intervention and an investigation into all actions that “irreparably prejudice the rights of Palestinians, including the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for targeted killings”.

South Africa requests the IG to order Israel to immediately withdraw and cease its military attack in Rafah and that Israel immediately implement all measures to ensure unimpeded access to Gaza. South Africa requests access for the United Nations and other officials involved in the provision of humanitarian assistance, as well as internationally approved organizations, officials, investigators and reporters so that conditions on the ground level in Gaza can be recorded.

South Africa also requests that the court will order Israel to submit a report within one week of the date of the order on all measures that have been introduced for these provisional provisions and that all previous provisional measures will be introduced within one month.

“We appeal to the international community, including the allies of Israel, not to keep themselves blind to the ongoing genocide in Gaza,” says Pres. Cyril Ramaphosa. “The gross human rights violations committed by Israel have reached incomprehensible levels of cruelty, hatred and severe violent oppression. The world must do more to end the persecution of Palestinians, including countless innocent women and children.”

US report condemns warlike conduct

Attacks from Israel hit Gaza on Saturday after renewed criticism from the US about the country’s behavior during the war and a warning from the United Nations (UN) about an “enormous disaster” if the invasion of the densely populated Rafah continues.

AFP reporters reported on the attacks in several parts of the coastal area where the UN says aid is being blocked after Israeli soldiers defied international opposition and entered eastern Rafah this week.

A report by the US State Department said on Friday that Israel had probably violated norms of international law by its use of weapons from the US – its main military supplier. However, there is not enough evidence to stop shipments.

The department released its report two days after pres. Joe Biden threatened to withhold certain bombs and heavy artillery if Israel continued with the all-out attack on Rafah. According to the UN, 1.4 million people are hiding in Rafah.

This is the first time that Biden has touched on American influence over Israel – its military aid amounts to about $3 billion annually.

Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, said on Friday that Gaza would experience an “enormous humanitarian disaster” if Israel continued with a full-scale ground operation in Rafah.

Israeli soldiers closed the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza on Tuesday after residents of eastern Rafah were ordered to evacuate. All fuel is transported through this intersection.

Israel said its southern crossing with the Palestinian territory, Kerem Shalom, was reopened on Wednesday.

However, a UN report late Friday said both crossings still had “heavy military presence”.

Martin Griffiths, the UN’s head of assistance, said closing the crossings meant “no help”.

The war began when Hamas invaded Israel on October 7, 2023. More than 1,170 people, mainly civilians, have died, according to an AFP tally based on Israel’s official figures.

Israel’s counterattack has already claimed the lives of at least 34,943 people in Gaza, mainly women and children, according to the Hamas-controlled territory’s health ministry.

‘Back to the Beginning’

Negotiation teams from Israel and Hamas left Cairo on Thursday after a “two-day long round of indirect negotiations” on a possible cease-fire in Gaza.

Hamas said Israel’s rejection of a ceasefire tabled by mediators had sent the negotiations “back to the beginning”.

The UN General Assembly in New York on Friday voted overwhelmingly to grant additional rights to Palestinians in the international body and support their request for full membership. This request is opposed by the USA.

Riyad Mansour, Palestinian ambassador to the UN, said it was a “historic vote”. Israel’s foreign minister, Israel Katz, said it sends a message to Hamas that “violence pays off”.

Richard Gowan, an analyst at the Brussels-based think tank the International Crisis Group, said the resolution sends “a very clear message to Israel and the US that it is time to look at the Palestinian state in a serious light”.