The UN Supreme Court opens hearings on the Israeli military incursion into Rafah

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — South Africa urged the U.N. Supreme Court on Thursday to order a ceasefire in Gaza during hearings on emergency measures to stop the Israeli military operation in the southern city of Rafah.

This was the third time that the International Court of Justice held hearings on the case Conflict in Gaza Since December, South Africa filed a lawsuit before the court, based in The Hague, Netherlands, accusing Israel of committing genocide.

The country’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, urged the panel of 15 international judges to order Israel to “completely and unconditionally withdraw” from the Gaza Strip.

The court has already found That there is a “real and imminent danger” to the Palestinian people in Gaza as a result of Israeli military operations. “This may be the court’s last chance to act,” said Irish lawyer Blaine Ní Graaligh, a member of the South African legal team.

The court’s judges have broad powers to order a ceasefire and take other measures, although the court does not have its own enforcement body. a Request 2022 The court demanding that Russia stop its comprehensive invasion of Ukraine has so far gone unheeded.

During hearings earlier this year, Israel strongly denied it Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, saying it is doing everything it can to spare civilians and only targeting Hamas fighters. The state says Rafah is the armed group’s last stronghold.

The latest request focuses on the incursion into Rafah.

South Africa says the military operation went far beyond justified self-defense. “Israel’s actions in Rafah are part of the end game. This is the final step in the destruction of Gaza,” said lawyer Vaughan Lowe.

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According to the last requestHowever, previous preliminary orders issued by the court based in The Hague were insufficient to address a “brutal military attack on the only remaining refuge for the people of Gaza.” Israel will be allowed to respond to the accusations on Friday.

In January, the judges ordered Israel to do everything in its power to prevent death, destruction and anything else Acts of genocide In Gaza, but the committee stopped short of issuing an order to end the military attack that led to the destruction of the Palestinian Strip. In a second order issued in March, the court said that Israel must take measures to improve the humanitarian situation.

South Africa has so far submitted four requests to the International Court to investigate Israel. He was granted a hearing three times.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been displaced since the fighting began.

The war began with a Hamas attack on southern Israel on October 7, in which Palestinian militants killed about 1,200 people and took about 250 hostage. The Ministry of Health in Gaza says that more than 35,000 Palestinians were killed in the war, without distinguishing between civilians and combatants in its count.

South Africa initiated the proceedings in December 2023 and sees the legal campaign rooted in the issues Central to her identity. Its ruling party, the African National Congress, has long compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the occupied West Bank to its history under the apartheid system of white minority rule, which confined most black people to their “homelands.” Apartheid ended in 1994.

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Egypt announced on Sunday that it intends to join the case. The Foreign Ministry said that Israeli military actions “constitute a flagrant violation of international law, humanitarian law and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention for the Protection of Civilian Persons during War.”

Several countries have also indicated that they plan to intervene, but so far only Libya, Nicaragua and Colombia have made formal requests to do so.

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