Israel's agent Gilad Naom, front third right, and Tamar Kaplan Tourgeman, front center, wait for the start of ICC hearings

S.Africa warns ICC that war in Gaza has reached “a new and horrific stage”

By Rédaction Africanews

South Africa told the United Nations’ top court on Thursday the situation in Gaza had reached “a new and horrific stage” as it sought emergency measures to halt Israel’s military operation in the enclave’s southern city of Rafah.

It was the third time the International Court of Justice held hearings on the conflict in Gaza since South Africa filed proceedings at The Hague-based court in December, accusing Israel of genocide.

“Israel has sought to hide its crimes through the weaponization of international humanitarian law. It pretends that the civilians it ruthlessly kills through its 2,000 pound bombs, through its targeted airstrikes, through its artificial intelligence systems, through its executions on human shields. This whitewashing of Israel’s genocide misses the key and fundamental element, that of the massive and still mounting evidence of Israel’s genocidal intent,” the country’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, told the panel of 15 international judges Thursday.

During hearings earlier this year, Israel strongly denied committing genocide in Gaza, saying it does all it can to spare civilians and is only targeting Hamas militants. The country says Rafah is the last stronghold of the militant group.

South Africa argues that the military operation has far surpassed justified self-defense. “It was Rafah that brought South Africa to the court. But it is all Palestinians as a national, ethnical and racial group who need the protection from genocide that the court can order,” lawyer Vaughan Lowe said.

According to the latest request, the previous preliminary orders by The Hague-based court were not sufficient to address “a brutal military attack on the sole remaining refuge for the people of Gaza.” Israel will be allowed to answer the accusations on Friday.

In January, judges ordered Israel to do all it can to prevent death, destruction and any acts of genocide in Gaza, but the panel stopped short of ordering an end to the military offensive that has laid waste to the Palestinian enclave. In a second order in March, the court said Israel must take measures to improve the humanitarian situation.

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