Saturday, June 22, 2024

“Last Chance To Act,” South Africa alarms ICJ

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), on Thursday began hearing South Africa’s petition to urge Israel to halt its military operations in Rafah.

The southern Gaza city of Rafah near the Egypt border shelters over half of the Gazan population.

This is the third hearing since South Africa moved the proceedings in December at the international court in The Hague, Netherlands, accusing Israel of genocide.

Till now, South Africa has submitted four requests before the International Court of Justice to investigate Israel’s brutal war crimes.

The current plea stated that the court’s previous orders were not enough to address “a brutal military attack on the sole remaining refuge for the people of Gaza.

“Lawyer Vaughan Lowe said, “Israel’s actions in Rafah are part of the end game. This is the last step in the destruction of Gaza.”

Irish lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, who represents South Africa’s legal team, noted that the court has already found that there is “real and imminent risk” from the Israeli military operations to the Palestinians in Gaza.

“This may well be the last chance for the court to act,” he added.

Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, urged the 15 international judges’ panel to direct Israel to “totally and unconditionally withdraw” from the Gaza Strip.

The court will allow Israel, who terms Rafah to be the last stronghold of Hamas, to answer the accusations levelled against it by South Africa during the hearing on Friday.

South Africa initiated proceedings against Israel in December 2023. Its ruling party, the African National Congress, has long compared Israeli policies in Gaza and the occupied West Bank to its own history of white minority rule and the apartheid regime.

In January, the ICJ had ordered Israel to do everything in its power to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza. However, it did not pass an order to end the military operations.

Then in March, the court passed its second directive and told Israel to take measures necessary to improve the humanitarian situation.

Notably, Egypt on Sunday announced its plans to join the case, causing a diplomatic shock to Israel.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 35,233 Palestinians have been killed, and 79,141 injured, in Israel’s ongoing genocidal war.

Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their destroyed homes throughout the Strip.

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