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Order total ceasefire now, South Africa tells ICJ

Alameen Templeton

An immediate and total ceasefire is needed in Gaza to allow in aid by land if a major famine is to be avoided, South Africa has told the International Court of Justice.

“israel’s” actions were pursuing an “end game for Gaza to be utterly destroyed as an area of human habitation” prohibited under the Genocide Convention.

“The key point today is that ‘israel’s’ declared aim of wiping Gaza from the map is about to be realised,” South Africa’s legal representative Prof Vaughan Lowe said to the judges.

“Further, evidence of appalling crimes and atrocities is literally being destroyed and bulldozed, in effect wiping the slate clean for those who’ve committed these crimes and making a mockery of justice,” he said.

“From the onset, israel’s intent was always to destroy Palestinian life and to wipe them off the face of the earth. Rafah is the final stand,” said Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.

“israel” had ignored the court’s previous rulings and the ICJ was in serious peril of appearing futile if it failed to act, the court heard.

Moments before the court session started Thursday, “israeli” defence minister Yoav Gallant vowed the Rafah attack “will continue as additional forces enter” the city.

Ngcukaitobi cited inflammatory comments by Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich in April as saying, “There are no half-measures. Rafah, Deir al-Balah, Nusseirat – total annihilation.”

Rafah is a tiny, overcrowded city where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians have taken shelter in tents and are facing the rapid spread of diseases and a severe lack of food and clean water. The only hospital in the area has shut down, leaving only a small facility that has been overwhelmed, Al Jazeera reports.

“Israeli” soldiers were star witnesses for the prosecution yesterday as video after video posted by them on social media were shown to the court committing atrocity after atrocity.

Mass graves of executed civilians at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis were also shown to the court.

With over 200 murdered media workers and over 500 medical personnel, including surgeons and doctors hunted down over the entirety of the Gaza genocide, the Mzansi team also demanded journalists and international investigators be given full, unhindered access to the pulverised and blood-soaked concentration camp.

It asked the court to urgently order “israel” to end its assault on Rafah and halt its merciless campaign across Gaza to prevent further genocide.

“The thwarting of humanitarian aid cannot be seen as anything but the deliberate snuffing-out of Palestinian lives. Starvation to the point of famine,” lawyer Adila Hassim said.

The court should also order “israel” to provide a public report within a week on measures it was taking to abide by the orders, South Africa argued.

The scale of mass suffering was so intense after seven months of grinding genocide, which has murdered more than 35,000 people and reduced much of Gaza to rubble and gore, that a total ceasefire was needed to get food, medicine and other aid to its desperate population.

Mzansi lawyer Max du Plessis, said “israel’s” declared safe zones were a “cruel distortion” because people were often too starved to flee. Those strong enough to leave to shelters were sometimes attacked by “israeli” forces, he said.

“There is nothing humanitarian about these humanitarian zones,” he said. “’israel’s’ genocide of Palestinians continues through military attacks and man-made starvation.”

The planned assault on Rafah would destroy “the foundation of Palestinian life” in the territory, Lowe told the court.

Reporters and war crimes investigators needed free access to Gaza, to collect and preserve evidence of potential war crimes.

“The details are not always easy to verify because “israel” continues to bar independent investigators and journalists from entering Gaza, and over 100 journalists who were in Gaza have been killed since Israeli attacks began,” Lowe said. ““israel” cannot block investigations by independent investigators and then say the court cannot proceed because there is insufficient evidence against it.”

South Africa has applied for new provisional orders in the case to prevent “irreparable harm”, while the court considers the main charge against “israel” of genocide in Gaza. Judges are expected to take years to reach a final decision in that case although they have made a prelimary finding that genocide is quite plausibly taking place.

In an interim order in January, it ordered “israel” to “take all measures within its power” to desist from killing Palestinians in contravention of the genocide convention, to prevent and punish the incitement of genocide, and to facilitate provision of “urgent basic services”.

The Guardian reports that made no difference to the assault on the Palestinian civilians and life-giving infrastructure of Gaza.

In March, in new provisional measures, the court ordered ordered “israel” to allow unimpeded access of food aid into Gaza, in a unanimous decision which warned that “famine is setting in”. Since preparations for a Rafah assault started over 10 days ago, “israel” allowed almost no food in to Gaza’s starving population.

On Thursday South Africa’s representatives repeatedly pointed out “israel” has stubbornly failed to comply with those rulings, and argued the international community’s failure to enforce the rulings had emboldened “israel’s” sense of impunity.

The Rafah pogrom had cut off the two main entry points for humanitarian aid, shut down the crippled remains of the medical system, and forced hundreds of thousands of terrified civilians to flee north to parts of Gaza that were now bombed-out wastelands.

The lawyer Adila Hassim said: “In these circumstances the thwarting of humanitarian aid cannot be seen as anything but the deliberate snuffing out of Palestinian life. Starvation to the point of famine, obstructing aid in the face of famine, and killing of at least 200 aid workers.

“For the court’s previous orders to be effective, for the provision of humanitarian aid urgently and at scale, “israel” has to be ordered to stop its military offensive.”

“israel” is set down to respond on Friday morning.

“israel” has said it respects international humanitarian law. It claims the high death toll is so high because Hamas is using civilians as human shields. It claims it has stepped up humanitarian aid as the ICJ ordered.

UN figures showed that over the past 10 days, only six lorries had been able to enter Gaza.

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