ICJ urges Israel to uphold genocide prevention, denies new measures for Rafah

AP , Saturday 17 Feb 2024

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday stressed that Israel must respect the provisional measures imposed last month to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza, but rejected a South African request to impose new urgent measures to safeguard Rafah, as existing measures already apply throughout the Strip.

peace Palace
FILE PHOTO - A protester waving the Palestinian flag stands outside the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 26, 2024. AP

 

The top UN court said in a statement that the “perilous situation” in Rafah “demands immediate and effective implementation of the provisional measures" that it ordered on Jan. 26.

It said no new order was necessary because the existing measures “are applicable throughout the Gaza Strip, including in Rafah.”

The World Court added that Israel “remains bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention” and the Jan. 26 ruling ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction, and any acts of genocide in Gaza.

Citing U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the court noted “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.’"

An estimated 1.4 million Palestinians, more than half of Gaza’s population, have crammed into the city, most of them displaced people who fled fighting elsewhere in Gaza.

Israel has said it will evacuate the civilians before attacking, though international aid officials have said there is nowhere to go due to the vast devastation left behind by the offensive.

South Africa announced Tuesday that it had lodged an “ urgent request ” with the International Court of Justice to consider whether Israel’s military operations targeting the southern Gaza city of Rafah breach provisional orders the court handed down last month in a case alleging genocide.

South African foreign ministry spokesman Clayson Monyela said in a message on X, formerly Twitter, that the court “has affirmed our view that the perilous situation demands immediate & effective implementation of the provisional measures indicated by the Court in its Order of 26 January 2024 which are applicable throughout the #GazaStrip & has clarified that this includes #Rafah.”

There was no immediate comment from the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

On Thursday, Israel urged the World Court to reject what it called South Africa’s “highly peculiar and improper” request.

The provisional measures ordered last month came at a preliminary stage of a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of breaching the Genocide Convention.

South Africa has long compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank to its own history under the apartheid regime of white minority rule, which restricted most Blacks to “homelands.” Apartheid ended in 1994.

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