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World Court to hold hearings over Israel's Rafah attacks

May 14, 2024 at 2:25 pm

Overview of the courtroom at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands on 22 April, 2024 [Selman Aksünger/Anadolu Agency]

The UN’s International Court of Justice will hold hearings on Thursday and Friday to discuss new emergency measures sought by South Africa over Israel’s attacks on Rafah during the war in Gaza, the Court said Tuesday.

The measures form part of an ongoing case South Africa filed at the ICJ in December last year accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention during its offensive against Palestinians in Gaza, Reuters reports.

Israel has previously said it is acting in accordance with international law and has called the genocide case baseless and accused Pretoria of acting as “the legal arm” of Gaza’s ruling Hamas group.

South Africa will address the Court on Thursday after it asked the ICJ, also known as the World Court, last week to order Israel to cease its Rafah offensive and allow unimpeded access to Gaza for UN officials, organisations providing humanitarian aid and journalists and investigators.

Israel will present its side of the case on Friday, according to the Court schedule.

The war has killed nearly 35,000 people in Gaza, according to health authorities there. About 1,200 people were killed in Israel and 253 taken hostage on 7 October when Hamas launched the attack that started the war, according Israeli tallies.

The hearings in The Hague will only focus on issuing emergency measures, to keep the dispute from escalating, before the Court can rule on the merits of the case, which usually takes years. While the ICJ’s rulings are binding and without appeal, the Court has no way to enforce them.

READ: FACTBOX – Which countries have joined South Africa’s genocide case against Israel?