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South Africa seeks halt to Israel's Rafah offensive at International Court of Justice

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South Africa has also asked the court to order Israel to allow unimpeded access to Gaza for UN officials, organisations providing humanitarian aid, and journalists and investigators.

South Africa will ask the top UN court on Thursday to order a halt to the Rafah offensive as part of its case in The Hague accusing Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip.

The hearings at the International Court of Justice, also known as the World Court, come after South Africa last week asked for additional emergency measures to protect Rafah, a southern Gaza city where more than a million Palestinians have been sheltering.



It also asked the court to order Israel to allow unimpeded access to Gaza for UN officials, organisations providing humanitarian aid, and journalists and investigators. It added that Israel has so far ignored and violated earlier court orders.

On Thursday, South Africa will present its latest intervention-seeking emergency measures starting at 3 p.m. (1300 GMT).

Ambassador Vusimuzi Madonsela (r) of South Africa during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on the legal consequences of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. (Photo: ROBIN VAN LONKHUIJSEN/ANP via AFP)


Israel, which has denounced South Africa's claim that it is violating the 1949 Genocide Convention as baseless, will respond on Friday. In previous filings, it stressed it had stepped up efforts to get humanitarian aid into Gaza as the ICJ had ordered.

Gilad Erdan, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations told Army Radio on Wednesday the short notice the court gave for the hearings did not allow sufficient legal preparation, adding that was "a telling sign".



The Israel-Hamas war has killed nearly 35,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities there.

South Africa accuses Israel of acts of genocide against Palestinians. In January, the court ordered Israel to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza, allow in more humanitarian aid and preserve any evidence of violations.

The hearings on May 16 and 17 will focus on issuing emergency measures, to keep the dispute from escalating.

The ICJ's rulings and orders are binding and without appeal. While the court has no way to enforce them, an order against a country could hurt its international reputation and set a legal precedent.

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