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South Africa says Israel's attack on Rafah ‘proves’ genocide allegation presented to ICJ 

February 15, 2024 at 11:28 am

South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor addresses the media after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered an order on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel in The Hague, Netherlands on January 26, 2024 [Michel Porro/Getty Images]

South Africa’s foreign minister has said that the actions of the Israeli government in Rafah “prove” that what the republic presented to the International Court of Justice was correct regarding genocide. Naledi Pandor also condemned the targeting of journalists in general and Al Jazeera journalists in particular, describing it as a criminal act.

“Israel has not been deterred by the ruling of the ICJ, and the evidence is the continuation of its war in Rafah,” the minister told Al Jazeera. “The decision to stop the fighting in Gaza is in the hands of the countries that supply Israel with money and weapons.” What is concerning, added Pandor, is that Israel is allowed to ignore the ruling of the ICJ and not protect civilians.

On Tuesday, the South African presidency said that the country had submitted an urgent request to the ICJ to consider Israel’s decision to expand its military operations in Rafah and determine whether it required the court to use its authority to prevent further violations of the rights of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The ICJ announced on 26 January its preliminary ruling in the case brought by South Africa against Israel under the 1948 Genocide Convention. It found that Israel must act to prevent genocidal violence by its armed forces, to prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and to enable humanitarian aid to enter Gaza to help the Palestinians in the enclave.

Despite this, Israel has continued to target and kill civilians and aid convoys are being held up at the border crossing. Even when allowed in, convoys and Palestinians waiting for aid have been targeted by Israeli artillery and snipers.

The Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Karim Khan KC, finally spoke out on Monday and expressed his deep concern over “the reported bombardment and potential ground incursion by Israeli forces in Rafah.” Writing on X, Khan added: “My Office has an ongoing and active investigation into the situation in the State of Palestine. This is being taken forward as a matter of the utmost urgency, with a view to bringing to justice those responsible for Rome Statute crimes.”

All wars have rules, he pointed out, and the laws applicable to armed conflict cannot be interpreted so as to render them hollow or devoid of meaning. “This has been my consistent message, including from Ramallah last year. Since that time, I have not seen any discernible change in conduct by Israel. As I have repeatedly emphasised, those who do not comply with the law should not complain later when my Office takes action pursuant to its mandate.”

READ: Several UN member states ask Security Council to save Rafah from ‘looming catastrophe’