International Court of Justice, ICJ
International Court of Justice, ICJ

War on Gaza: ICJ rejects S/Africa request for more measures against Israel

The UN’s top court Friday rejected South Africa’s request to put more legal pressure on Israel to halt a threatened offensive against the Gaza city of Rafah, saying it was “bound to comply with existing measures”.

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


The court has yet to rule on the underlying issue, but on January 26 it ordered Israel to ensure it took action to protect Palestinian civilians from further harm and to allow in humanitarian aid.


South African officials on Tuesday filed a further request to the court, asking it to order new measures in the light of Israel’s preparation of a new operation against Rafah.


More than half of Gaza’s 2.4 million population have sought shelter there from Israel’s offensive on the Gaza Strip.


The ICJ’s judges acknowledged that the recent developments “‘would exponentially increase what is already a humanitarian nightmare with untold regional consequences’” — citing remarks by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.


But although Israel needed to act immediately to ensure the safety and security of Palestinians, that did not require “the indication of additional provisional measures”, they added.


Israel remained “bound to fully comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention and with the said Order”, the ICJ ruling said, referring to its January 26 ruling.


Despite the rejection of its latest request, South Africa welcomed the ICJ’s latest decision.


It affirmed its view that the “perilous situation” in Gaza demanded the “immediate and effective implementation” of the emergency measures the court ordered in its January 26 decision, it said in a statement late Friday.


“The court has unequivocally explained that compliance with the existing provisional measures requires Israel to ensure the safety and security of all Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa’s spokesman, Vincent Magwenya.