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South Africa Requests ‘Urgent’ Intervention by the World Court, Cessation of Israeli Assault on Rafah

The South African legal team from an earlier hearing. Credit: ICJ

South Africa took the moral stand to defend the Palestinian people’’s human right to exist as Israel dropped bombs on Gaza back in December 2023. Now, again on May 10, it filed with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) an “urgent” request for the court to intervene based on “new facts.” Specifically, the South African legal filing seeks for the ICJ to change or modify the “provisional measures” of its January 26 Order due to events unfolding in Rafah. They argue, previous “measures” by the Court “are not capable of ‘fully addressing’ changed … facts on the ground.” South Africa’s “urgent request” states, in part:

”[t]he situation brought about by the Israeli assault on Rafah, and the extreme risk it poses to humanitarian supplies and basic services into Gaza, to the survival of the Palestinian medical system, and to the very survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group, is not only an escalation of the prevailing situation, but gives rise to new facts that are causing irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

The ICJ’s January 26th Order had already found “plausible” violations of the Palestinian peoples’ rights, protected by the Genocide Convention, based on facts presented at that time. South Africa now notes Israel’s “contemptuous” disregard for the Court’s Order, in detailing 19 “new facts” which “urgently … indicate” the need for the ICJ to either issue anew, and/or modify, earlier “provisional measures” which directed “the State of Israel” to “take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip….” These new facts are “brought about by Israel’s assault on Rafah,” South Africa asserts, and which all the world sees.

Among the “new facts” relating to circumstances on the ground in Rafah, South Africa details: a) 1.5 million displaced Palestinians have “nowhere” to “safely to flee to” as “so much of Gaza” has been “reduced to rubble”; b) “Rafah is where Gaza’s largest still-partially functioning hospitals are” found, so were attacks on Rafah’s hospitals to be like those done to all others in Gaza “a fatal blow to Gaza’s already collapsed healthcare system” will result; c) “new evidence of Israeli atrocities” citing the recent unearthing of “mass graves” found at Nasser and Al-Shifa Hospitals; d) Israel’s capture and closure of the two Rafah crossings has led to a shutoff of the trickle of “life-saving humanitarian aid and other goods,” resulting in “starving of the population.” Moreover, the closures are halting the entry or exit of “medics, medical evacuees,” or “Palestinians fleeing the conflict.” Similarly, choking off fuel for “sewage and water plants” is “throttling the already crippled humanitarian operation.” On these actions, South Africa argues, the “current closure of the crossings has served to seal Gaza hermetically from the outside world,” and it notes that, as Rafah serves as “the primary humanitarian hub for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, if Rafah falls, so too does Gaza.”

Also, South Africa’s filing rips the cover off of Israel’s charade of providing a safe place for 1.5 million Palestinians Rafah to be evacuated to:

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