Photo Credit: GovernmentZA
South Africa's foreign minister Naledi Pandor.

In documents revealed by the International Court of Justice in The Hague last Friday, South Africa urged the court to compel Israel to promptly retreat from Rafah, the southernmost city of Gaza, where over a million displaced Palestinians from the conflict have sought refuge. Additionally, South Africa called for Israel to halt its military operations and grant unrestricted access to international officials, investigators, and journalists.

The United States and the other G7 countries have expressed concern that the Hague Tribunal will issue arrest warrants for Israeli officials. According to them, this could frustrate and damage the efforts to obtain a deal for the abductees. It was also reported that there is a secret diplomatic effort to convey messages to the court condemning the issuing of the warrants while clarifying that there is a fear that this will harm the deal.


South Africa’s recent action is a continuation of a case initiated in December, alleging Israel of genocide. Following this, the court has mandated Israel to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza and increase humanitarian aid delivery to Palestinians amidst escalating starvation in certain areas. However, the court has yet to instruct Israel to cease its military campaign against Hamas.

Israel has vehemently refuted South Africa’s allegations, asserting that it has made considerable efforts to facilitate the entry of food and fuel into Gaza while minimizing harm to civilians. Israel contends that its military operations in Gaza were essential for self-defense against the October 7 attacks orchestrated by H and other armed groups, resulting in the deaths of over 1,200 Israelis and the capture of approximately 250 others.

South Africa’s plea on Friday marks the fourth instance it has sought temporary injunctions from the UN court. The filings highlighted the significant deterioration in conditions for civilians seeking shelter in Gaza.

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