Something must be done to stop the killings in Rafah: Ramaphosa

Reading Time: 3 minutes

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold public hearings on Thursday and Friday this week on South Africa’s latest request for additional provisional measures against Israel.

South Africa on Friday filed an urgent request with the Court for the indication of additional provisional measures and the modification of measures previously prescribed by the World Court with Israel’s military and humanitarian conduct in Gaza.

The latest request argues that the provisional measures previously indicated by the Court were not capable of fully addressing the changed circumstances and new facts in the war, particularly about an imminent full-scale military assault on Rafah, in Gaza’s south.

Third request

This represents South Africa’s third request for additional provisional measures since the Court’s original ruling in January, in which it ordered the implementation of six provisional measures in relation to its obligations under the Genocide Convention including that Israel enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance in Gaza.

South Africa subsequently formally requested additional provisional measures in February which resulted in the Court affirming its earlier ruling and then again in March.

The latter request saw the Court on March 28th order additional measures with the unhindered provision at the scale of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance and that Israel ensure that its military did not commit acts that constitute a violation of the rights of the Palestinians in Gaza as a protected group.

The SA Presidency on Friday said its latest application followed the escalation of Israel’s assault on Rafah which poses extreme risk to humanitarian supplies, basic services in Gaza, the survival of the medical system and the very survival of Palestinians as a group.

President Cyril Ramaphosa says, “We have made a further application because the attack on Rafah is a big concern to us and we’ve decided once again to approach the court to issue an injunction to stop the slaughter of Palestinians in Rafah, we see this as collective punishment and something must be done to stop what is happening with so many Palestinians being killed, women and children, civilians. So that is why we are going once again in the ICJ and we do hope that this time Israel will heed the injunction of the ICJ.”

ICJ | SA requests for additional provisional measures against Israel

Irreparable harm

In its latest filing, South Africa argues that the situation in Gaza had significantly changed since the Court’s last provisional order in March.

It further contends that the attack on Rafah, which has already seen more than 350 000 people displaced in recent days, would further worsen the prevailing situation and cause irreparable harm to the rights of Palestinians.

The Rafah border crossing in Gaza’s south – a key humanitarian lifeline – has been closed since Israel took control of the Gaza side of the border with Egypt last week, exacerbating already dire humanitarian conditions; while the UN has warned that a military assault on Rafah would be a human catastrophe.

For its part, Israel insists it is acting in accordance with international law in Gaza, that it seeks to keep civilian casualties to a minimum, it has labeled South Africa’s genocide case “baseless” while referring to Pretoria as the legal arm of Hamas.

Thursday and Friday’s hearing will be the first public hearings since original arguments were heard from both sides in January.

Officials have confirmed that the Director General of the Department of International Relations Zane Dangor will be in the Hague for the hearings, accompanied by South Africa’s legal team.