Israel’s targeting of Gaza hospitals decried as inhumane

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South Africa’s legal representative, Dr Adila Hassim, tells the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s targeted attacks on hospitals have turned a refuge for displaced and sick civilians into mass graves.

South Africa has approached the ICJ in the Hague, Netherlands, to request the court to order Israel to halt military action in Rafah. SA is specifically asking the court for additional or amended provisional measures in light of the changed circumstances facing Palestinians in Gaza, particularly in Rafah.

Hassim explains, “Israel’s systematic targeting and bombardment of hospitals and medical facilities, and its throttling of humanitarian aid, has pushed Gaza’s medical system to collapse. Israel’s direct attack on and siege of Gaza’s biggest hospitals has led to the uncovering of mass graves evidencing Israeli massacres of Palestinians seeking shelter and treatment.”

Hassim adds, “On 10 April, a UN inspection team reported that Khan Younis was reduced to rubble and dirt, and returnees discovered ghastly scenes of unearthed mass graves containing the massacred bodies of the elderly, children, women and men at Al Nasser hospital. Blue scrubs reportedly still clothed the dead bodies of medical staff.”

Halt to military operations

Meanwhile, Professor Vaughan Lowe, on behalf of South Africa, has argued that a halt to military operations by Israel in Gaza is necessary to comply with the previous orders made by the World Court.

The plea requires that Israel immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive in Rafah and for Israel to ensure and facilitate unimpeded humanitarian access to Gaza.

Prof Lowe elaborates, “If Israel continues to deny that its bombing and shelling and military incursions and blocking of roads and entry points of its other military operations in Gaza are preventing the fulfillment of the court’s orders, the court needs to spell it out explicitly for Israel, and for the benefit of any other states that are still providing aid or assistance to Israel in its campaign to eradicate Palestine.”


South Africa has asked the Court to order a remedy that would put a stop to Israel’s military campaign in Gaza. Their submission 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 in relation to an imminent full-scale military assault on Rafah, in Gaza’s south, the dire implications on the worsening humanitarian situation in the enclave and the rights of Palestinians as a group.

SA’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusi Madonsela was first to address the Court.

“Israel continues to show utter contempt for Palestinian life, operating with impunity. South Africa has no other option than to once again seek protection in the halls of justice for the fundamental rights of the Palestinian people to their existence. Although this present application was triggered by the unfolding horrific situation in Rafah, Israel’s genocidal onslaught across Gaza has intensified over the past few days, also warranting the attention of this court.”

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‘Genocidal intent’

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi in his arguments has accused the Israeli leaders of genocidal incitement.

“Israel’s leaders have continued to incite genocide and to express their own genocidal intent. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gone beyond any references to Hamas alone. Instead, he has described Israel’s aims in the military assault as being “to ensure that Gaza will never again constitute a threat to Israel, he describes Israel’s objective as being to achieve total victory underscoring that no force in the world can stop us,” Ngcukaitobi explains.