S. Africa urges more emergency ICJ measures against Israel over Gaza 'starvation'

AFP , Wednesday 6 Mar 2024

South Africa Wednesday petitioned the International Court of Justice to impose fresh emergency measures on Israel over what it described as the "widespread starvation" occurring as a result of its Gaza offensive.

Displaced Palestinians
Displaced Palestinians wait for food at Al-Shaboura camp, in Rafah city in the southern Gaza Strip. Photo courtesy of WHO


It is the second time Pretoria has asked the court for additional measures, its first request in February was denied.

South Africa said it was "compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza, particularly the situation of widespread starvation" during the offensive.

Pretoria said its application may be "the last opportunity that this Court shall have to save the Palestinian people in Gaza already dying of starvation, and now 'one step' from famine," citing the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

The UN has warned famine is looming and desperate crowds have stopped and looted food aid trucks.

In a ruling in mid-January that made headlines worldwide, the ICJ, based in The Hague, ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent genocide during its offensive in Gaza.

The court also ruled that Israel must allow aid into Gaza to ease the desperate humanitarian situation there.

These were so-called "provisional measures", emergency steps Israel needed to take while the court assessed the wider issue of whether it was committing genocide in Gaza -- which could take years.

South Africa has accused Israel of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention -- set up in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust -- during its military campaign in Gaza.

Pretoria hailed the January judgment as a victory and said it should lead to a ceasefire.

However, in mid-February, the court rejected a request by South Africa to pressure Israel to halt an offensive against the Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel has throughout dismissed the court proceedings as "motivated."

Israel's deadly offensive on Gaza since 7 October has killed at least 30,717 people and wounded more than 72,000, 70 percent of them women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

An Israeli blockade on most aid to the strip since the start of the war has left hundreds of thousands on the verge of starvation.

International rights groups have charged that Israel has not complied with the ICJ ruling.

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