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This article appears in the February 23, 2024 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this article]

South Africa Filed Urgent Request to ICJ To Stop Imminent Genocide in Rafah

Feb. 17—The government of the Republic of South Africa on Feb. 12 filed an “Urgent Request for Additional Measures Under Article 75(1) of the Rules of Court of the International Court of Justice,” asking for emergency measures to be taken to stop the imminent genocide in Rafah, Gaza. It is a tightly argued, two-page brief, with a third page of documentary footnotes, which begins by summarizing the Jan. 26, 2024 ICJ Court Order against Israel, and then states that “there has since been a significant development in the situation in Gaza requiring the Court’s urgent attention.”

In announcing the statement, the South African Presidency stated:

In a request submitted to the court yesterday (12 February 2024), the South African government said it was gravely concerned that the unprecedented military offensive against Rafah, as announced by the State of Israel, has already led to and will result in further large scale killing, harm and destruction.

The statement opened by declaring:

The South African Government has made an urgent request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider whether the decision announced by Israel to extend its military operations in Rafah, which is the last refuge for surviving people in Gaza, requires that the court use its power to prevent further imminent breach of the rights of Palestinians in Gaza.

It concluded by emphasizing that targeting Rafah,

would be in serious and irreparable breach both of the Genocide Convention and of the Court’s Order of 26 January 2024.

Following Israel’s response to this development, filed Feb. 15 with the ICJ, in which it called South Africa’s request a “misuse [of] the Court’s provisional measures procedure,” the World Court responded to both countries in a message on Feb. 16. The Court’s brief and toughly worded response declined any further orders, but warned that Israel had better comply with those issued by the Court Jan. 26.

The Court notes that the most recent developments in the Gaza Strip, and in Rafah in particular, ‘would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences,’ as stated by the United Nations Secretary General (Remarks to the General Assembly on priorities for 2024 (7 Feb. 2024)).

This perilous situation demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024, which are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah, and does not demand the indication of additional provisional measures.

The Court emphasizes that the State of Israel remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order, including by ensuring the safety and security of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

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