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Israel-Hamas war in Gaza: live updates and latest news from Rafah

South Africa on Thursday urged judges at the United Nations’ highest court to order Israel to stop its ground attack on Rafah in southern Gaza, saying it put the lives of Palestinians in the enclave at risk. imminent danger of destruction.

The hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague came after South Africa last week requested that the court impose new constraints on Israel in its military campaign in Gaza. In documents released by the court, South Africa cited the “irreparable harm” posed by the Israeli incursion into Rafah, Gaza’s southernmost town where half of the territory’s population had sought refuge.

“It has become increasingly clear that Israel’s actions in Rafah are part of the end game in which Gaza is completely destroyed as an area capable of human habitation,” said Vaughan Lowe, a British lawyer, to the court. “This is the final step towards the destruction of Gaza and its Palestinian people.”

Mr Lowe was part of the South African legal team which presented its case for two hours on Thursday.

South Africa documents say Palestinian rights in Gaza are under threat, adding that Israel’s control of two major border crossings in southern Gaza – at Rafah and Kerem Shalom – endangers the flow of supplies humanitarian aid to Gaza and the capacity of hospitals. there to function.

“It is difficult to imagine that such a situation could get worse, but unfortunately it has,” John Dugard, another member of the South African team, told the court.

Several members of the team have gone to court to try to build their case, frequently citing warnings from senior United Nations officials that an attack on Rafah would worsen civilian living conditions and the enclave’s food crisis.

A member of the South African legal team, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, cited statements by senior Israeli officials that he said demonstrated the intent to destroy Gaza as a whole and not just Hamas, the country’s declared enemy.

The legal team also asked the court to order Israel to facilitate access to Gaza for aid workers, investigators, fact-finding missions and journalists.

One of the lawyers, Adila Hassim, showed the court a photo of destroyed buildings in Khan Younis, a town north of Rafah, to illustrate the devastation caused by the Israeli army throughout Gaza. Ms. Hassim appeared on the verge of tears as she described the deaths of children during the military campaign.

Israel vehemently denied South Africa’s claims, repeating that it had not placed any restrictions on the amount of aid entering the enclave and had recently taken steps to increase the amount of food and other incoming supplies, including opening two crossing points in the north of the enclave. Gaza.

Israel also said its latest attack on eastern Rafah was a “precise operation” targeting only members of Hamas, the terrorist group that led the October 7 attacks, which Israeli authorities say killed more than 1,200 Israelis and allowed the capture of approximately 1,200 Israelis. 250 more.

Israel is expected to present its defense in court on Friday. Gilad Noam, Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law, is among the leaders of the Israeli delegation expected to address the court. It is unclear when the court will issue its decision, but given that South Africa said on Thursday that its request was extremely urgent because an attack on Rafah is underway, it appears possible that a decision will be issued soon.

The hearings are part of South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide, filed in December. In late January, the court ordered Israel to do more to prevent acts of genocide, but it stopped short of calling for a ceasefire. The main case, which involves the accusation of genocide, is not expected to start until next year.

The tribunal, established by the founding charter of the United Nations in 1945, was established to resolve disputes between member states. He has no way of enforcing his orders, but South Africa’s case has contributed to international pressure on Israel to curb its campaign in Gaza.

Marlise Simons And John Reiss reports contributed.

News Source : www.nytimes.com
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