Defend Truth


South Africa asks ICJ to order Israel to ‘cease its military offensive’ in Rafah

South Africa asks ICJ to order Israel to ‘cease its military offensive’ in Rafah
Internally displaced Palestinians arrive in Khan Younis after leaving Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip following an evacuation order issued by the Israeli army on 11 May 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Mohammed Saber)

South Africa has made an urgent appeal to the International Court of Justice to order Israel to cease its military incursion in Rafah.

South Africa has again approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with a request for additional provisional measures and modifications to its earlier orders against Israel, saying Israel’s military assault on Rafah posed risks “to the very survival of Palestinians in Gaza”.

In its request, filed on Friday, 10 May, South Africa asked the ICJ to order Israel to “immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive” in the southern Gaza city of Rafah. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Israel-Palestine War

More than a million Palestinians have sought refuge in Rafah after fleeing Israeli bombardment in the north over the past seven months. Earlier last week, Israel issued evacuation orders to Palestinians in Rafah, before seizing control of the Gaza side of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt on Monday, 6 May. The evacuations came as the Israeli military escalated its bombardment of the city, Al Jazeera reported.

An estimated 150,000 people had fled Rafah since Monday, according to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA). 

In its latest filing, South Africa said: “The situation brought about by the Israeli assault on Rafah, and the extreme risk it poses to humanitarian supplies and basic services in Gaza, to the survival of the Palestinian medical system, and to the very survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group, is not only an escalation of the prevailing situation, but gives rise to new facts that are causing irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

It said Rafah was the “last refuge” for Palestinians in Gaza; the “last viable centre in Gaza for habitation, public administration, and the provision of basic services, including medical care.

“The risk to Palestinians remaining in Rafah is particularly severe.”  


A Palestinian woman walks down the stairs of a house hit during an Israeli strike in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, on 9 May 2024. (Photo: Reuters / Hatem Khaled)

According to South Africa, the previous provisional measures issued by the ICJ “have been ignored and violated. Israel has instead chosen to escalate the humanitarian catastrophe through total military onslaught.”

This is the fourth time South Africa has requested the world court to order additional provisional measures in its ongoing genocide case against Israel.

On 26 January, the ICJ ordered Israel to prevent genocide, to prevent and punish incitement to genocide and to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza. But it stopped short of ordering Israel to implement a ceasefire in Gaza, which was the ultimate provisional measure South Africa had requested. 

The court also called on Hamas to release the remaining hostages it captured in its attack on Israel on 7 October. 

Read in Daily Maverick: Israel says ICJ order, if granted, would leave it defenceless against Hamas

On 12 February, South Africa made an urgent application to the court for additional provisional measures to be taken against Israel to prevent harm to civilians in its assault on Rafah. However, the ICJ declined this request, saying Israel remained bound by the court’s order of 26 January. 

On 6 March, South Africa again made an urgent application to the court for additional provisional measures to be made against Israel, this time to prevent famine in Gaza. In response to this request, the ICJ issued fresh orders for Israel to let humanitarian aid into the enclave. 

Israel opposed South Africa’s 6 March request to the ICJ, calling it an attempt to “relitigate” what the court had already decided. Israel has repeatedly said it is acting in accordance with international humanitarian law in Gaza, calling South Africa’s genocide case baseless and accusing the country of acting as “the legal arm of Hamas”.

Humanitarian aid

In addition to ordering Israel to withdraw from Rafah, South Africa – in its latest request – asked the court to order Israel to “take all effective measures to ensure and facilitate unimpeded access” to Gaza for officials of the United Nations (UN) and other international organisations to provide humanitarian aid, and for journalists and investigators. 

South Africa also requested that Israel report back on its progress in giving effect to any provisional measures ordered by the court.

It urged the court to consider its request without holding a hearing, given “the extreme urgency of the situation”. However, if the court considers that it cannot accede to the request without a hearing, South Africa requested the court to schedule an oral hearing on or before 17 May.  

On Tuesday, 7 May, Israel closed the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) border crossing in southern Israel for “security reasons”. With both the Kerem Shalom and Rafah crossings closed, humanitarian aid and assistance into Gaza has been halted, despite the recent UN warning of a looming famine. 

south africa icj gaza

South African Minister of International Relations Naledi Pandor and South African ambassador to the Netherlands Vusimuzi Madonsela at the International Court of Justice in The Hague on 26 January 2024. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Remko de Waal)

In its application, South Africa said: “Israel’s seizure of those crossings places Israel in control of all access to and from Gaza. Its current closure of the crossings has served to seal Gaza hermetically from the outside world, further crippling the delivery of aid to and within Gaza. As the primary humanitarian hub for humanitarian assistance in Gaza, if Rafah falls, so too does Gaza.”

In a statement on Saturday, 11 May, Presidency spokesperson Vincent Magwenya said that in its application, South Africa had further requested the court to reaffirm and seek urgent compliance by Israel with the provisional measures ordered by the court on 26 January and 28 March, specifically in relation to the unhindered provision of aid into Gaza. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in the statement that the world must do more to end the persecution of Palestinians.

“We call on the international community, including the allies of the State of Israel, not to turn a blind eye to the ongoing genocide in Gaza. The gross human rights violations perpetuated by Israel have scaled to incomprehensible levels of cruelty, hate and extreme violent oppression,” Ramaphosa said.

At least 34,500 people have been killed and 78,000 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October, according to Gaza’s health ministry. About 1,200 people were killed in Israel and 253 hostages were taken on 7 October, when Hamas launched its attack on Israel, Reuters reported. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    No government on earth really gives a damn what our clowns ask for or demand

    • John P says:

      The ICJ is not a government so what is your point here?

      • Ben Harper says:

        As explained countless times before, the ICJ cannot force a sovereign government to do anything, especially when they have no power, authority or ability to order the aggressor in the conflict to do anything. It’s a pretty east concept to grasp

        • John P says:

          Your original point was that “no government gives a damn”
          Your response is an obvious explanation about the ICJ. Did you maybe answer the wrong post?

          • robby 77 says:

            Maybe read again there John P – or you are being pedantic

          • Alan Watkins says:

            Was Ben not referring to the Israeli government? And the clowns are clearly our government – no guessing there.

  • Denise Smit says:

    Is this even newsworthy anymore

  • John P says:

    Both Turkey and Egypt have asked the ICJ if they can join in this case. That’s a big deal in that Turkey is a Nato member and Egypt is Israel’s only Arab ally. Even the USA and Europe are pulling back from their unquestioning support. Netanyahu has done irreparable harm to his country firstly in his government’s failure to stop the October 7 attack and secondly in the excessive and revenge motivated war on not just Hamas but on the people of Gaza. It seems revenge is even more important than negotiating for the release of hostages or maintaining a successful foreign policy.

  • Bob Fraser says:

    Bob F May 13th 2024 at 07:53
    Time for South Africa to keep their nose out of Israel affairs
    A question for Naledi Pandor “have you ever visited Israel either before this outrageous attack by Hamas or after? I bet not. Had you done so you may have had a very different attitude. You either don’t know of or chose to ignore that Israel has always had to face and ward off rocket attacks from Hamas operating in Gaza. Wake up woman.

    • Ben Harper says:

      The sycophants don’t like facts and only believe in cherry picking brief moments in time out of thousands of years of history to paint their false narrative

    • JP K says:

      South Africa is complying with it’s obligations under the genocide conventions. Whether Pandor had previously visited Israel is not relevant to South Africa’s obligation.

      Countries lose the right to go about their affairs without external interference if they violate international law such as those prescribed by the genocide convention. Resistance by Hamas does not permit Israel to commit genocide.

    • Mohsin Wadee says:

      Fine, then you have no problem with us remaining neutral when it comes to Russia and Ukraine right? Maybe as opposed as SA keeping its nose out of Israel affairs, perhaps you should keep your nose in more knowledge.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      Why did they occupy illegally, let them stop the occupation then see if anything will be shot towards them.

      • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

        Meaning? Let Israel stop existing? How do you propose to wish away 7 million Jews living in the land and another 7 million who call it home? Where should they go? Back to Europe after the holocaust? Back to the Muslim Middle Eastern lands that expelled them all after 1948? Please look at a map, understand demographics and a tiny bit of history – and stop this antisemitic illegal occupation trope. The only “genocide” are calls like yours.

        • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

          Where must the Palestinians go to the sea?

          • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

            Lets be 100% clear on this Kenneth. No-one is telling the Palestinians to go anywhere. They are welcome to stay in Israel,. As do more than 2 million Israeli-Arabs, with full rights. They must just stop trying to annihilate us, and live WITH us and accept us. You cannot seem to understand who is trying to genocide who here Kenneth.

  • Lynda Tyrer says:

    South Africa anc should get their own backyard fixed first before poking their noses in other countries. What are they trying to achieve and costing so much money which could be used in this country instead ? No one is interested in what the anc want or demand.

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      If other countries did not poke their nose in this country we will still be oppressed.
      We will be in jail for commenting on DM.

  • Agf Agf says:

    Oh no!! Not more stupidity. Give it a rest already. South Africa is really going too far now and making fools of themselves. It’s like a small child who won’t listen when their parent says no to a request for more cookies from the cookie jar.

    • John P says:

      Not just South Africa but Namibia, Bangladesh, Colombia, Turkey, Egypt, Ireland and more. Even the US and Europe are running out of patience with the Israeli excesses in Gaza. The days of Israel acting with impunity are drawing to a close.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Is that why several other countries (rather slowly/belatedly) are asking to join the SA application to the ICJ ?

      • Malcolm McManus says:

        They may have moral reasons for doing it. Our basis for our actions may not have that much to do with morals, based on the fact that we are are not campaigning to the ICJ for many other crises currently going on in Africa and eastern Europe. That aside, the coincidental timing of the initial case being lodged at the ICJ and the ANC parties sudden cash flush situation around the same time. Time will tell a more compelling story.

    • John P says:

      Not just South Africa but Namibia, Bangladesh, Colombia, Turkey, Egypt, Ireland and more. Even the US and Europe are running out of patience with Israel

  • Dov de Jong says:

    I wonder, when the Americans firebombed Tokyo, or when Britain bombed Dresden, how many woman and children lost their lives. Why was it fine then ?, just asking.

    • John P says:

      Was it fine then? No it was not. The question is, have we learnt nothing from the past?

      • Kanu Sukha says:

        In response to that barbarity, the US and its allies sought to set up the UN which it did. The very institution which because of it’s ‘democratic’ nature, the US (with the urging of its offspring Israel – from its incest with the UK) now finds intolerable and unable to ‘dominate’, in its lust for world hegemony. Hence not even ‘outrage’ (only ‘concern’ by its spokespeople) by the US at the number of UN staff murdered by Israel and attack or destruction of its sites in Gaza .

      • Malcolm McManus says:

        By we, would you be including both the IDF and Hamas.

        • John P says:

          Oh yes, we as in mankind.

          • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

            Mankind thanks you for being its spokesman John. As long as we have you at the keyboard commenting all day, every day, with the same old biased and bigoted opinion

          • John P says:

            Thank you Mordechai for the open minded response below.

    • JP K says:

      The laws were different then but I don’t know that it was fine. International human rights law covering warfare and protecting civilians came about as a result of and following WWII.

  • Rael Chai says:

    More Politicking by South Africa as it is obvious that the ICJ will just come back with the response that they have ordered Israel to not commit genocide in Gaza and that should be enough for now.

    • Kanu Sukha says:

      Is that why the UN special rapporteur made findings that Israel was committing genocide .. not just ‘plausible’ genocide ? The spineless ICC could solve the issue urgently if it issued an arrest warrant for Netanyahu, like it quickly did with Putin.

      • Alan Watkins says:

        Did that solve the Russian Ukraine issue? Did that stop the kidnapping of Ukrainian children? Did that result in Russia returning the kidnapped Ukrainian children? No Of course not. And anything the ICC did with Putin was certainly not quick.

  • Bill Gild says:

    The ANC is well past its day in international limelight.
    Maybe, just maybe, it ought to try its hand at government, not grandstanding.

  • John Shaw says:

    Israel, a terrorist state!
    The flaw in the legitimacy of Israel is that it was created by the west without regard for the people of Palestine. Palestine was a British administered territory from 1917. Sometime thereafter a British politician by the name of Lord Balfour produced a document encouraging the creation of a Jewish State it became known as the Balfour Doctrine. In 1947 after the holocaust, The League of Nations/United Nations encouraged by the USA and Britain created Israel by dividing up Palestine into a section for the Jews and a section for the Palestinians. Both Jews and Palestinians lived in Palestine, the Palestinians were in the majority. The Palestinians and the Arab world rejected the division outright. The future of Palestine could only be decided by the Palestinian people.
    Many wars have been fought and millions of people have been displaced, killed, starved to death, or denied medical attention at the hands of the Jews occupying Palestine. On day one in 1948 the Jews displaced 750 000 from their homes in the new Israel. The Jews occupying Palestine have brutally abused the Palestinians for 75 years. These are crimes against humanity. They have done this by dehumanising the Palestinians, these constructs made it easy to slaughter 25000 women and children, almost a journalist a day and describe it as being ‘caught in the crossfire’. This is in the short period from October 7 23. The Jews have in the process dehumanised themselves. They have lost their humanity, their souls; they no longer have moral integrity and are no longer behaving like human beings. Evidence supports the claims that the Jews are starving the Palestinians by frustrating aid into Gaza. They are also denying them medical attention by destroying hospitals and other medical facilities. Killing Aid workers is strategic, demolishing medical facilities is strategic and especially killing journalists is strategic. No aid workers, no aid, no health facilities, no medical attention, no Palestinians! The IDF members slaughter anybody and everybody they come into contact with, including unarmed young children, old people, women, health workers, aid workers and their response is a social media celebration. These are commonly known as war crimes.
    The Israelis have destroyed cultural sites, archives, education sites, medical facilities and homes, the evidence supports genocide. In addition, they are building settlements in Palestinian territory notwithstanding many UN resolutions declaring them illegal. The Jews now occupy the whole of Palestine.
    Recently an old Jewish person wrote ‘we were the victims now we are the perpetrators’, what he did not speak about was the past 75 years where the USA, the UK, their European allies together with the Israeli propaganda machine, the Jews around the world and the Western media have provided cover for all the atrocities committed by Israel. The propaganda machine attacks everybody that is not pro-Israel. The attacks are relentless, truth is not important. The evidence hardly ever supports Israel’s version of events. The Israeli Knesset recently passed a law enabling the banning of media regarded a security risk to Israel, Al Jazeera is the first to be banned. Al Jazeera is the most credible media channel covering the Middle East. Truth is always discredited by Israel. The UN is often in the firing line, they know too much about what happens in the occupied territories. The Israeli propaganda machine demonises any persons or entities that share truth. Israel sounds a lot like North Korea, unhinged and isolated.
    We all wonder why the USA and their allies unconditionally support Israel, why Israel is never held accountable. Israel has been described as ‘lawless’ by legal scholars, as in criminal. The US is providing the bombs and ammunition that are used to slaughter the Palestinians. Israel is their frontman in the Middle East, there is more US military hardware in Israel including nuclear than anywhere in the world. The USA has provided hundreds of billions of dollars in support of Israel over the years. There are a lot of Jews in the USA, and all have a vote. This is about politics not morality. When the US President speaks about his concern for the Palestinians, he is not concerned about them he is concerned about votes. Nothing changes on the ground, it is called politics speak. How did the promoters of Israel expect the creation of a Jewish state to be a success without the support of the Palestinians and the Arab world?
    Israel will have no legitimacy for many people of the world until there is an agreement with the people of Palestine. Remarkably, the Israelis never speak about a solution only more violence and atrocities. There are no Nelson Mandelas in Israel so don’t expect a solution soon. The Palestinians in whatever form, Hamas or Hezbollah or the ordinary people of Palestine have few options to deal with the injustice they have been dealt. The accusation that UNRWA, the UN aid organisation, is supporting terrorism is another cynical example of the Israeli’s taking every opportunity to exterminate the Palestinians. Typically, no evidence provided. Of course, the Palestinians support Hamas and Hezbollah who else is batting for them. The Palestinians have been violated, impoverished, and humiliated for the past 75 years. Hezbollah and Hamas are the consequence.
    Israeli aggression is now on the world stage, it is out of the exclusive hands of the Israeli propaganda machine and the USA, the Teutonic plates around this issue are shifting, the best outcome is that Israel is dismantled. Israel is a threat to world peace and has bought death and misery to millions of people The cover provided and encouragement of these crimes against humanity by the USA, its allies, the western media, the Israeli propaganda machine, and the Jews around the world will go down in history as a crime of its own.
    Only disciples of humanity get to heaven.

    John Shaw
    South Africa

    • John P says:

      This is worthy of publication as a DM opinion piece in it’s own right, well written and essentially factual. It could do with some expansion especially in providing collaborating evidence for some of the contentious the points made.

      It is not possible to roll back history to 1947 and start again in an equitable manner, the only way forward is a negotiated settlement that accounts for the rights and future of every citizen of the region.

      • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

        As long as its antisemitic then John is onboard every time

        • John P says:

          As long as it does not agree 100% with your viewpoint you will not take anything onboard but will rather strike out with the tired old antisemitic accusations.

          • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

            If it walks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s probably a duck

  • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

    Egypt joining SA at the ICJ. It wouldn’t be that Egypt doesn’t want to suddenly have to import 2 million new problems?

    • Kenneth FAKUDE says:

      If Israel is not committing genocide why is anyone bothered if South Africa is going to ICJ about Rafah, unless if Israel is busy with war crimes and we all know what they are doing there.

      • Mordechai Yitzchak says:

        Who is bothered? Would you even know where Rafah is on a map (let alone be able to colour in Israel in a map of the middle east? We all know why SA is at the ICJ, and it has nothing to do with morality. Its all about the benjamins.

        • John P says:

          Would it not be nice to sometimes assume that someone who does not share your viewpoint and bias is not ignorant or stupid?

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


This article is free to read.

Sign up for free or sign in to continue reading.

Unlike our competitors, we don’t force you to pay to read the news but we do need your email address to make your experience better.

Nearly there! Create a password to finish signing up with us:

Please enter your password or get a sign in link if you’ve forgotten

Open Sesame! Thanks for signing up.

A South African Hero: You

There’s a 99.7% chance that this isn’t for you. Only 0.3% of our readers have responded to this call for action.

Those 0.3% of our readers are our hidden heroes, who are fuelling our work and impacting the lives of every South African in doing so. They’re the people who contribute to keep Daily Maverick free for all, including you.

The equation is quite simple: the more members we have, the more reporting and investigations we can do, and the greater the impact on the country.

Be part of that 0.3%. Be a Maverick. Be a Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

MavericKids vol 3

How can a child learn to read if they don't have a book?

81% of South African children aged 10 can't read for meaning. You can help by pre-ordering a copy of MavericKids.

For every copy sold we will donate a copy to Gift of The Givers for children in need of reading support.