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South Africa slams Rafah assault as ‘last step in the destruction of Gaza’ in ICJ hearing

SOUTH AFRICA pressed the International Court of Justice (ICJ) today to order Israel to immediately halt its assault on Rafah, saying it marked “the last step in the destruction of Gaza.”

The court in The Hague granted an emergency hearing, with South African lawyers arguing that Israel is conducting a “brutal military attack on the sole remaining refuge for the people of Gaza.” Israel will be given a chance to answer the accusations tomorrow.

Lawyer Adila Hassim said Israel’s behaviour since South Africa first put its case at the ICJ in January confirmed the accusation of genocide.

Since that time at least 11,500 Palestinians had been “directly killed by Israel,” with two women and four children killed every hour on average.

“This onslaught has occurred despite the binding orders of this court,” she said, referring to the ICJ’s interim ruling instructing Israel to take all possible action to avoid a genocide.

She added that Israel had created a humanitarian crisis in a co-ordinated way, stopping food and aid from entering and stopping the sick and injured from getting out.

And the discovery of mass graves around the Nasser hospital in Khan Younis and al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City were a further feature of genocidal conduct, she said.

Another lawyer, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, focused on Israeli leaders’ remarks to show that its conduct was in line with the “explicit, stated and continuing intent” of the country’s government.

Israel’s attacks on Gaza continued as South Africa’s lawyers spoke, with troops shelling residential buildings and an ambulance in Jabalia in the north, where battles rage against Hamas fighters. At least four Palestinians including a pregnant woman were killed in one house.

Footage posted on social media showed smoke rising from stricken buildings next to Rafah’s Kuwaiti Hospital, suggesting a repeat of the direct bombardment of hospitals seen elsewhere in Gaza. Doctors Without Borders has already pulled out of Rafah’s Indonesian Hospital, transferring patients as it said the intensity of Israeli attacks meant it could not guarantee their or its staff’s safety.

Israel blamed friendly fire for the deaths of five of its soldiers on Wednesday night. Hezbollah claimed an attack that injured three Israeli soldiers near the Lebanese border.


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