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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


WATCH: ‘Israel intent on destroying Palestinian life’ – SA pushes for urgent ICJ action

South African lawyers appealed to the ICJ to order Israel to immediately stop its military onslaught in Rafah.


South Africa told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) it must take bolder action to make Israel stop the war in Gaza and protect civilians in the Palestinian enclave.

South Africa on Thursday delivered its arguments before the ICJ in a fresh application as part of its genocide case against Israel.

This is the second time the country has appeared at the ICJ against Israel after obtaining preliminary orders in January that Israel scale down its operations in Gaza.

Watch Advocate Adila Hassim arguing South Africa’s case at the ICJ

South Africa argued that Israel’s latest military’s full-scale assault on the southern city of Rafah, where about 1.5 million Palestinians have sought refuge, is the “last step in the destruction of all Gaza” and that the court must  order Israel to halt its military activity in Gaza and to withdraw its forces entirely.

Israel must be stopped

In her remarks, a visibly emotional advocate Adila Hassim from the South African legal team argued that this was ”the only order that will protect Palestinian life in Gaza”.

“I show that Israel’s genocidal acts against Palestinian in Rafah form part of a continuing escalating pattern of conduct across Gaza that provides persuasive and consistent evidence of Israel’s genocidal conduct.

“In light of these new facts, South Africa seeks an order from the court, the only order that will clearly protect what is left of Palestinian life in Gaza. It seeks an explicit order that Israel cease its military activities, not only in Rafah but throughout Gaza turning them to the genocidal acts,” Hassim argued.

ALSO READ: ICJ agrees with SA and orders Israel to ensure more aid reaches Gaza

Israel genocidal intent

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukatoibi argued genocidal intent by Israel’s leaders in statements made since the court last ordered additional provisional measures in March.

“Such language continues to be widespread alongside calls by Israeli soldiers on the ground to conquer, flatten, erase, destroy Gaza and after that Ramallah also. Israeli soldiers serving in Gaza continue to openly call for the deaths to Arabs declaring ‘may you burn alive’ that Gaza is burning, that we will burn your mother and that all of Shuja’iyya will burn in flames.

“The aims of Israel is to do no less than what its own minister of finance has stated, that is to ensure the total annihilation of Palestinians, that will erase the memory Amalek. He has also called for Rafah to be completely conquered and the sooner the better,” Ngcukatoibi argued.

Ngcukatoibi argued that Israel’s “genocidal intent continues to receive support and endorsement at the Knesset.”

He displayed to the court a video of Israeli soldiers echoing such calls, including one of a group of soldiers yelling: “Let’s go and destroy Rafah.”

Humanity

Earlier, Professor John Dugard argued Israel’s actions violate fundamental principles of humanitarian law and constitute a “final blow” to the suffering Palestinians in Gaza.

“By going ahead with its long-sought invasion there, Israel has severed “critical border crossings”, stopping the flow of humanitarian aid, medical supplies and fuel, upon which the population depends.”

Vusi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands, in his opening address, said the gravity of Israel’s attacks requires the court’s “urgent and speedy proceedings to preserve the rights of the Palestinian people, a commitment that South Africa takes seriously”.

Israel is expected to make its oral arguments on Friday

Provisional measures

Judges at the ICJ have previously issued provisional measures, ordering Israel to take actions to limit humanitarian suffering in Gaza.

In March, the ICJ agreed with South Africa’s assertion that the situation in Gaza had deteriorated significantly since the initial order on 26 January, which Israel has failed to comply with.

The UN’s top court granted South Africa’s urgent request to enforce additional emergency measures against Israel, accusing it of violating existing measures and causing irreparable harm to the rights invoked by Pretoria under the 1948 Genocide Convention in respect of the ongoing siege of Gaza.

In its application, South Africa warned that Palestinians in Gaza are in dire straits and that it was  “compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza — particularly the situation of widespread starvation.”

The World Court said because of Israel’s failure to comply with its initial order in January, it was necessary for the Court to indicate further provisional measures.

ALSO READ: WATCH: ‘ICC should’ve issued warrant of arrest for Netanyahu’ − Pandor

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