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Egypt announces intent to join South Africa's genocide case against Israel at International Court of Justice

12 May 2024

Cairo [Egypt], May 12 (ANI): Egypt said it will formally join the case registered by South Africa against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which accuses Israel of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its military action in the Gaza Strip. The Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Sunday that Cairo wanted to join the case due to the increasing Israeli offensive against Palestinian civilians, Al Jazeera reported.

In a statement, the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated, "The submission ... comes in light of the worsening severity and scope of Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the continued perpetration of systematic practices against the Palestinian people, including direct targeting of civilians and the destruction of infrastructure in the Strip, and pushing Palestinians to flee," according to Al Jazeera report.

Earlier in January, South Africa filed a case against Israel, accusing Tel Aviv of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. According to Palestinian authorities, the death toll from Israel's war in Gaza, which began in October, has surpassed 35,000 and the majority of the victims are women and children.

Israel launched the counter-offensive against Hamas after the latter launched an attack on southern Israel, killing at least 1,139 people, mostly civilians, according to an Al Jazeera tally based on Israeli statistics.

The ICJ issued an interim ruling in January that found there was a plausible risk of genocide in the enclave and ordered Israel to take provincial measures, including preventing any genocidal acts from taking place. The court rejected a second South African application for emergency measures made in March over Israel's threat to attack Rafah.

Egypt will join Turkey and Colombia in formally requesting the court to join the case against Israel. In May, Turkey announced it would join the case after Colombia in April requested the ICJ to allow it to join to ensure "the safety and, indeed, the very existence of the Palestinian people."Egypt said it is urging Israel "to comply with its obligations as the occupying power and to implement the provisional measures issued by the ICJ, which require ensuring access to humanitarian and relief aid in a manner that meets the needs of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip." It also called on Israeli forces to not commit any violations against Palestinians.

It will likely take years before the ICJ announces its verdict on the merits of the genocide case. Although the ICJ's rulings are binding and without appeal, the court has no option to enforce them, according to Al Jazeera report.

Israel has repeatedly said it is taking action in accordance with international law in Gaza. It has termed South Africa's genocide case baseless and accused Pretoria of acting as the "legal arm of Hamas."The latest legal development comes at a time when Israel and Hamas are engaged in war in northern Gaza. Israel has ordered tens of thousands more people to evacuate from Rafah, which lies near Gaza's border with Egypt.

On May 7, Israeli forces seized the Palestinian side of the Rafah border crossing. Israel's decision came a day after Hamas announced that it had agreed to an Egyptian-Qatari mediated ceasefire proposal, which Tel Aviv quickly rejected. The crossing had been the main entry point for aid into Gaza. However, it has been closed since Israel took control of it.

According to Palestinian health officials, tanks and planes pounded several areas and at least four houses in Rafah overnight, killing 20 Palestinians and injuring several others, Al Jazeera reported. The city is crammed with over one million displaced Palestinians living in dire conditions.

The international community has warned that Israel's full-scale ground assault would cause a humanitarian catastrophe for civilians. However, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said the Rafah offensive was required to defeat Hamas. According to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), about 110,000 Palestinians have fled Rafah in recent days.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, said on Sunday that an immediate humanitarian ceasefire is the need of the hour and urged for a "surge" in humanitarian aid to the besieged Gaza Strip, according to The Times of Israel report.

"I repeat my call, the world's call, for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire, the unconditional release of all hostages, and an immediate surge in humanitarian aid," Guterres said in a video address to an international donors' conference in Kuwait.

"But a ceasefire will only be the start. It will be a long road back from the devastation and trauma of this war," he said.

Calling the Gaza conflict "horrific human suffering," Guterres said that the war has resulted in "devastating lives, tearing families apart, and rendering huge numbers of people homeless, hungry, and traumatised."He made the remarks at a summit in Kuwait, which was arranged by OCHA, the UN agency responsible for humanitarian coordination, and the International Islamic Charitable Organisation (IICO), The Times of Israel reported.

Amid the ongoing war with Hamas, Israeli strikes in Gaza continued on Sunday after the Israel Defence Forces expanded an evacuation order for Rafah despite international outcry over its military incursion into eastern areas of the city. (ANI)

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