South Africa asks ICJ to order Israel to stop operations in Rafah

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Smoke rises after Israeli bombardments in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on May 10, 2024. AFP

Will the International Court of Justice (ICJ) order Israel to “stop its military offensive” in Rafah, as urgently requested by South Africa? Seized by Pretoria, the judges established, on January 26, that there is a plausible risk that the rights of Palestinians to be protected from the crime of genocide would be violated. Twice since then, they have issued orders against the Jewish state. “The very manner in which Israel continues its military operations in Rafah and elsewhere in Gaza is itself genocidal. We must order it to stop”asks South Africa this time in its latest request filed Friday, May 10, in the evening.

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The capture of the two border posts of Rafah and Kerem Shalom by the Israeli army on May 6 does not signify a simple escalation of the conflict, argues Pretoria in its request to the judges. “With the destruction of Rafah, the destruction of Gaza itself will be complete”making it impossible ” the survival “ Palestinians. Israel now has the ” Total control “ on what enters and leaves Gaza, notes South Africa. Rafah is the “last refuge” for some 1.5 million Gazans there, but the operation “hermetically sealed Gaza from the outside world, further crippling the flow of aid to and within” of the enclave.

Shortly before the start of the operation on Rafah, the Palestinians received evacuation messages for the area of ​​Al-Mawasi, in the Khan Younes sector, already largely reduced to the state of “rubble” by Israel, “uninhabitable”according to South Africa, with “people living crowded together in tents” and which were also targeted by Israeli fire. On Sunday, some 300,000 people had come.

Urgency to preserve evidence

South Africa reports “extreme risks” for those who cannot or do not want to travel again. The lawyers recall the testimonies of Israeli soldiers recently published in the daily Haaretz, telling that the evacuation areas have been treated “as “extermination zones” in which all remaining Palestinians are considered legitimate targets”.

It is also urgent to preserve this evidence, says Pretoria, which asks judges to order Israel to allow foreign journalists access to Gaza and the entry of international investigators. The United Nations Security Council gave lip service on Friday ” underlines “ the importance of unhindered access for investigators to mass graves discovered after the military operations against the Nasser and Al-Shifa hospitals in Gaza City. According to Pretoria, “more than 390 bodies were discovered (…) and would show signs of torture and summary executions.”

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