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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

South Africa calls on ICJ to urgently intervene to prevent Israeli attack on Rafah

South Africa has urgently requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to intervene and halt Israel’s planned assault on Rafah, a city in southern Gaza. The situation is critical, with more than 100 Palestinians killed by Israeli shelling and airstrikes across Rafah overnight on Monday. Israel’s bombardment and its intention to expand the attack with a ground offensive directly violate a clear directive from the ICJ. Less than three weeks ago, the court ordered Israel to take all necessary measures to prevent genocidal violence in Gaza. The South African government emphasizes that an invasion of Rafah would constitute an “irreparable breach” of both the Genocide Convention and the court’s order.

According to a press release from the office of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa:

Under Article 75(1) of the Rules of Court, "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."
In a request submitted to the court yesterday (12 February 2024), the South African government said it 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 would be in serious and irreparable breach both of the Genocide Convention and of the Court's Order of 26 January 2024.
South Africa trusts this matter will receive the necessary urgency in light of the daily death toll in Gaza.

The ICJ had previously issued an interim ruling on January 26, acknowledging South Africa’s case that Israel is committing genocidal acts in Gaza. The court deemed the complaint “plausible” and required Israel to ensure its military actions do not violate the Genocide Convention. Now, given the escalating situation in Rafah, South Africa urges the ICJ to revisit the provisional measures it ordered earlier. The city of Rafah, once designated as a “safe zone” for civilians, now faces siege, assault and Israeli bombardment.


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