South Africa makes urgent appeal to International Court of Justice over Rafah offensive


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South Africa has urgently petitioned the International Court of Justice to assess whether Israel’s expansion of military operations into Rafah warrants intervention to halt further violations of Palestinian rights in Gaza. Recent Israeli airstrikes have inflicted heavy casualties in Rafah, the final sanctuary for displaced Palestinians in the region, with reports indicating at least 74 fatalities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declaration of readiness for a ground offensive in the southern city has heightened concerns.

UN Human Rights Chief Volker Turk expressed dread over the potential consequences of an assault on Rafah, emphasising the likelihood of a devastating toll on civilians, particularly children and women. Turk emphasised Israel’s obligation to adhere to the International Court of Justice’s legally binding directives and international humanitarian law, stressing the imperative of accountability for those disregarding international norms. Urging global intervention, Turk called for an immediate ceasefire and the release of remaining hostages.

With over half of Gaza’s 2.3 million inhabitants crammed into Rafah, conditions have deteriorated drastically, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. Many displaced individuals endure appalling living conditions in makeshift shelters, lacking necessities such as clean water and adequate food supplies. South Africa’s submission to the ICJ underscores grave concerns over the ongoing military offensive in Rafah, warning of the potential for further widespread harm and destruction, deemed as violations of both the Genocide Convention and the court’s prior injunctions.