Displaced Palestinians gather at a water point to fill their jerricans in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday.—AFP
Displaced Palestinians gather at a water point to fill their jerricans in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, on Thursday.—AFP

THE HAGUE: South Africa on Thursday accused Israel at the top UN court of stepping up what it called a “genocide” in Gaza, urging the court to order a halt to Israel’s assault on Rafah.

“South Africa had hoped, when we last appeared before this court, to halt this genocidal process to preserve Palestine and its people,” Vusimuzi Madonsela told the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“Instead, Israel’s genocide has continued apace and has just reached a new and horrific stage,” he added.

South Africa was kicking off two days of hearings at the Peace Palace in The Hague, home of the ICJ, imploring judges to order a ceasefire throughout Gaza.

Israel will respond on Friday. It has previously highlighted its “unwavering” commitment to upholding international law and described South Africa’s case as “wholly unfounded” and “morally repugnant”.

In a ruling that made headlines around the world, the ICJ in January ordered Israel to do everything in its power to prevent genocidal acts and enable humanitarian aid to Gaza.

But the court stopped short of ordering a ceasefire and South Africa’s argument is that the situation on the ground — notably the operation in the crowded city of Rafah — requires fresh ICJ action.

Published in Dawn, May 17th, 2024

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