As 700,000 civilians flee Rafah, our shared humanity compels the indication of further ICJ provisional measures

May 18, 2024
Public hearings in the case South Africa v. Israel Image: ICJ

“[T]here was the man in his 50s, forgotten in a room, having had both legs amputated. He had lost his kids, his grandkids, his home . . . and he’s alone in the corner of this dark hospital, maggots going out of his wounds and he was screaming:
‘The worms are eating me alive please help me…’

As recently stated by the United Nations Assistant Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, “[t]he war in Gaza” has “entered yet another horrifying phase”.

Gaza is now a “hellscape for millions trapped under incessant bombardment”, where those who have escaped death and injury “now risk losing their lives because of a lack of food, safe water, medicine and healthcare”.

Gaza has, in her words, become “a moral stain on the conscience of our collective humanity.”

I conclude [this oral hearing to the International Court of Justice] with a slide.

It reports an account of a doctor’s recent experience in a hospital in Gaza following his departure from the Strip.

He says this, describing one of the patients there:

“[T]here was the man in his 50s, forgotten in a room, having had both legs amputated. He had lost his kids, his grandkids, his home . . . and he’s alone in the corner of this dark hospital, maggots going out of his wounds and he was screaming: ‘The worms are eating me alive please help me.’ That was just one just one out of . . . I don’t know, I just stopped counting. But those are the people I still think of because they’re still there.”

That sums up what Gaza is today.

Its people severely wounded, with life-altering disabling injuries, bereaved of their entire families, homeless, alone, trapped, without electricity or even basic healthcare.

Seven months later, after two Orders from this Court, they are still there, enduring this horror.

They are crying out for help.

An order for an immediate cessation of Israel’s military operations in Gaza is now their only hope. “Enough is enough”.

South Africa cannot but reiterate its respectful and humble call on this Court to do what is in its power to do, what the drafters of the Genocide Convention called on it to do, what our shared humanity compels it to do.

To listen to that desperate cry for help from Gaza, and to order Israel to withdraw from Gaza and to cease fire.

Extract from oral observations of the Parties on the Request submitted by the Republic of South Africa on 10 May 2024 for the indication of additional provisional measures and the modification of previous provisional measures in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel).

View the full transcript of South Africa’s oral submission to the International Court of Justice, May 16 2024, here

South Africa has requested that the ICJ order the following additional provisional measures:

  1. The State of Israel shall immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive in the Rafah Governorate.
  2. The State of Israel shall immediately take all effective measures to ensure and facilitate the unimpeded access to Gaza of United Nations and other officials engaged in the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance to the population of Gaza, as well as fact-finding missions, internationally mandated bodies or officials, investigators, and journalists, in order to assess and record conditions on the ground in Gaza and enable the effective preservation and retention of evidence, and shall ensure that its military does not act to prevent such access, provision, preservation or retention.
  3.  The State of Israel shall submit an open report to the Court: (a) on all measures taken to give effect to these provisional measures within one week as from the date of this Order; and (b) on all measures taken to give effect to all previous provisional measures indicated by the Court within one month as from the date of this Order.

Israel’s response to the request for additional provisional measures is available here.

 

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