South Africa Calls for a Halt to the Israeli Gaza Offensive - Latest Global News

South Africa Calls for a Halt to the Israeli Gaza Offensive

South Africa is asking the UN’s top court to order Israel to stop its military offensive in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

She presents her case at a two-day hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. Israel will present its response in court on Friday.

South Africa is also trying to force Israel to allow aid workers, journalists and investigators “unhindered access” to the Gaza Strip.

The court is already considering a case filed by South Africa in January accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. Israel rejected the claim as false and “grossly distorted.”

Israel began its attack on Hamas in Rafah 10 days ago after the United Nations and others warned of a grave danger to civilians. More than a million displaced people had sought refuge in Rafah and nearly 600,000 have fled since the operation began.

South Africa, in its application to the court, accuses Israel of carrying out “genocidal” operations in Rafah and elsewhere in the Gaza Strip and says “it must be ordered to stop.”

At the start of the hearing, South African lawyer Vaughan Lowe KC addressed the court and said that “evidence of horrific crimes and atrocities is literally being destroyed and bulldozed, which essentially wipes the clean slate of those who committed these crimes and them “makes a mockery of justice”.

Israel says its offensive in Rafah is necessary to destroy the last remaining Hamas battalions stationed there and rescue about 130 remaining Israeli hostages it believes are being held there.

In January, in a highly explosive case that was closely watched around the world, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take measures to prevent potentially genocidal acts in Gaza. It also called on Israel to do more to enable the delivery of aid to people there.

The court’s then president, Joan Donoghue, told the BBC last month that the ICJ had not ruled that there was a plausible case of genocide, but rather that Palestinians had a right to be protected from genocide, as stated by South Africa claims.

The ICJ is not expected to make a ruling on the genocide case for several years. Its decisions are legally binding, but in practice cannot be enforced by the court.

The latest application is the third that South Africa, whose ruling party has long shown solidarity with the Palestinian cause, has filed with the International Court of Justice against Israel’s actions in Gaza.

Israel began its offensive in the Gaza Strip after gunmen from the ruling Palestinian group Hamas launched an unprecedented attack on Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking 252 others hostage.

Since then, more than 35,270 people have been killed by Israel in the war in Gaza, according to the territory’s Hamas-run health ministry.

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