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South Africa Seeks ICJ Order for Israeli Withdrawal from Rafah

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South Africa has petitioned the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to command Israel to cease its military operations in Rafah and ensure humanitarian access to Gaza, according to a statement from the court on Friday.

The request is part of a ongoing case where South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians. Israel has consistently denied the claim, labeling the accusations as baseless and describing South Africa as a legal arm for Hamas.

Earlier this year, the World Court had ordered Israel not to engage in actions that could violate the Genocide Convention. With the conflict intensifying, South Africa’s latest filings demand urgent action, calling Rafah “the last refuge” for many Palestinians in Gaza.

The filings said, “Those who have survived so far are facing imminent death now, and an order from the Court is needed to ensure their survival.”

Furthermore, the South African government has asked the ICJ to impose measures that would halt the ongoing offensive in Rafah and permit unobstructed entry to Gaza for U.N. officials, humanitarian organizations, and media personnel.

The ongoing conflict, which escalated from a Hamas attack on October 7, has resulted in nearly 35,000 deaths in Gaza and 1,200 in Israel, with an additional 253 Israelis taken hostage, according to local health authorities and the Israeli government.

Decisions on such emergency measures by the ICJ typically come within a few weeks. However, while the ICJ has the authority to issue binding rulings, it lacks enforcement capabilities and generally takes years to decide on cases’ merits.

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