World Court to rule Friday on South Africa Gaza ceasefire bid

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The UN’s top court said it will rule Friday on a request by South Africa to order Israel to implement a ceasefire in Gaza.

South Africa has petitioned the International Court of Justice for emergency measures to order Israel to “cease its military operations in the Gaza Strip” including in Rafah city, where it is pressing an offensive.

For the latest updates on the Israel-Palestine conflict, visit our dedicated page.

Ahead of ICJ’s decision, Israel said it will not be deterred from pursuing its war on Hamas.

“No power on Earth will stop Israel from protecting its citizens and going after Hamas in Gaza,” government spokesperson said on Avi Hyman, told reporters when asked whether Israel would comply with a possible ICJ ruling against it on Friday.

The rulings of the ICJ, which rules on disputes between states, are binding but it has no power to enforce them -- it has ordered Russia to halt its invasion of Ukraine to no avail, for example.

But a ruling against Israel would increase the international legal pressure after the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor said Monday he was seeking arrest warrants for top Israeli and Hamas leaders.

In hearings last week, South Africa charged that what it described as Israel’s “genocide” in Gaza had hit a “new and horrific stage” with its assault on Rafah, the last part of Gaza to face a ground invasion.

The Rafah campaign is “the last step in the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people,” argued Vaughan Lowe, a lawyer for South Africa.

“It was Rafah that brought South Africa to the court. But it is all Palestinians as a national, ethnical and racial group who need the protection from genocide that the court can order," he added.

Lawyers for Israel hit out at South Africa’s case as being “totally divorced” from reality that made a “mockery” of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention it is accused of breaching.

“Calling something a genocide again and again does not make it genocide. Repeating a lie does not make it true,” top lawyer for Israel Gilad Noam said.

“There is a tragic war going on but there is no genocide,” he added.

Israeli troops began their ground assault on parts of Rafah early this month, defying international opposition including from top ally the United States, which voiced fears for the more than one million civilians trapped in the city.

Israel has ordered mass evacuations from the city, where it has vowed to eliminate Hamas’s tunnel network and its remaining fighters.

The UN says more than 800,000 people have fled.

With agencies

Read more:

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Israel tells World Court South Africa case makes a mockery of genocide

Egypt says to join South Africa ICJ genocide case against Israel

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