South Africa urges UN top court to stop planned Israeli attack on Gaza’s Rafah

TOPSHOT - Smoke billows from Israeli air strikes in Gaza City, controlled by the Palestinian Hamas movement, on May 11, 2021. Israel and the Islamist movement Hamas in Gaza exchanged heavy fire, killing at least 26 Palestinians and two Israelis, in an escalation sparked by violent unrest at Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound. / AFP / ANAS BABA

South Africa has urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to put more emergency measures in place with the aim to pressure Israel to halt a planned offensive against the densely crowded Gaza city of Rafah.
The South African presidency said in a statement on Tuesday (14 February) that it had submitted an “urgent request” to the ICJ, the UN’s top court, adding that 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.” In late December, Pretoria filed a case with The Hague-based ICJ, alleging that Israel’s assault on Gaza amounts to a breach of the Genocide Convention and asking the court to step in with emergency orders.
In response, the court ordered Israel last month to take all measures to prevent its troops from committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and to increase humanitarian aid to the territory, though it fell short of ordering a halt to fighting there. The process of considering whether Israel is committing genocide could take the court several years. Tel Aviv plans to expand its military campaign into Rafah where 1 million Palestinians have sought refuge after fleeing the rest of the Gaza Strip, much of it destroyed by Israeli military operations since 7 October. Israel’s military campaign has killed more than 28,473, according to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry. The ICJ has so far declined to comment on the request.