Israel calls S. Africa court appeal over Rafah ‘unjustifiable’

Israel calls S. Africa court appeal over Rafah ‘unjustifiable’
Israel calls S. Africa court appeal over Rafah ‘unjustifiable’

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - People ride in a cart pulled by a tractor past the rubble of a destroyed building and a mosque minaret in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on February 14, 2024. — AFP pic

THE HAGUE, Feb 16 — Israel hit back yesterday at what it described as an “unjustifiable” South African appeal to the United Nations’ top court to apply more legal pressure over a threatened offensive on the southern Gazan city of Rafah.

Pretoria has already filed a complaint against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ), alleging that its assault on Gaza amounts to a breach of the UN Genocide Convention.

The court has yet to rule on the underlying issue, but on January 26 it ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent genocidal acts during its campaign and also to allow in humanitarian aid.

On Tuesday, South Africa filed a new application to the ICJ, arguing there had been a “significant development” since the court’s January ruling, namely an announced offensive on Rafah.

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In its response posted on the ICJ website late yesterday, Israel said: “South Africa’s unjustifiable claims make clear that its request is not driven by any change in circumstances, nor does it have any basis in fact or law.”

It described Pretoria’s request as a “cynical effort... to manipulate the court to protect South Africa’s longtime ally Hamas, a global terrorist organisation.”

Israel said it was “unwavering” in its commitment to international law including the Genocide Convention during the current conflict.

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The October 7 attack on Israel by Hamas militants resulted in the deaths of about 1,160 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

At least 28,663 people, mostly women and children, have been killed in Israel’s assault on the Palestinian territory, according to the health ministry.

Israel launched more deadly strikes on southern Gaza yesterday, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu insisted it would push ahead with a “powerful” operation in the overcrowded city of Rafah for “complete victory”.

Meanwhile, efforts underway in Cairo to secure a ceasefire entered a third day, with negotiators from the United States, Qatar, and Egypt trying to broker a deal to suspend the fighting and release hostage held by Hamas. — AFP

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