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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist


SA files ‘urgent request’ for additional measures in genocide case against Israel

South Africa stated that it is 'compelled' to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza.


As Israel continues its bombing of Gaza, South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to enforce additional emergency measures against Israel, accusing it of violating existing measures, the United Nations’ top court announced on Wednesday.

In its application, South Africa warned that Palestinians in Gaza are facing starvation, a crisis that has claimed the lives of at least 15 children in the past week alone, with the actual numbers believed to be much higher.

Starvation

South Africa stated that it is “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”.

South Africa also asked the world court to order that all parties cease hostilities and release all hostages and detainees.

United Nations experts warn that the number of deaths will increase unless military activities are halted and the blockade is lifted.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the Presidency warned that the people of Gaza could not wait.

“The threat of all-out famine has now materialised. The court needs to act now to stop the imminent tragedy by immediately and effectively ensuring that the rights it has found are threatened under the Genocide Convention are protected.”

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Immediate and effective measures

South Africa also asked the court to order that the State of Israel “ take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address famine and starvation and the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza.”

It added that the ICJ, also known as the World Court, should take these measures without scheduling a new round of hearings because of the “extreme urgency of the situation.”

“The State of Israel shall submit an open report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to all provisional measures ordered by the Court to date, within one month as from the date of this Order.”

ICJ order

Israel’s military offensive in Gaza has persisted despite the United Nations’ court order to end “plausible acts of genocide in the enclave”.

In its judgment, the ICJ ordered Israel to take “all measures within its power” to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza, take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in the Gaza Strip,  but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire.

South Africa approached the World Court seeking several orders, including for Israel to immediately suspend its Gaza offensive; to stop forced displacement; to enable humanitarian access to thousands of displaced Palestinians; and to preserve evidence.

Israel has denied the allegations of genocide as baseless, arguing that it had a responsibility to protect all of its citizens, including those captured and held hostage by Hamas.

Now, in its 152th day, more than 30,700 Palestinians have been killed by Israel’s military offensive in Gaza, while over 72,000 others have been injured amid mass destruction and shortages of necessities.

Israeli authorities claim the 7 October attacks by Hamas killed about 1,200 Israelis.

Naledi Pandor in Lenasia

Meanwhile, International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor, during a dialogue about South Africa’s ICJ case with the community of Lenasia on Wednesday, said aid must be allowed into Gaza.

“We need to get aid into Palestine. I know how we can do it. All the countries, which are powerful countries with big armies that are giving arms to Israel, they must send their soldier to the Rafah border to escort the 700 trucks into Gaza.”

Pandor said South Africa is “resolute it will continue to pursue the ICJ case and that the whole world wants to know who South Africa is”.

“I am not seeking to please you when I say to you the whole world wants to know South Africans. They want to know what does it take to take-on this very difficult challenge. As a country that is right at the bottom of the African continent, that is a small economy compared to big economies and that should really not have the cheek to challenge anyone.”

Pandor told MPs during an address to the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon that a “catastrophic situation was before the eyes of the world, and it is imperative as South Africa that we speak out against what is unfolding and the great harm that is underway in the occupied territories of Palestine.”

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