South Africa Calls On ICJ To Order Israel’s Complete Military Withdrawal From Gaza

South Africa appealed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday to compel Israel to cease its military operations in the Gaza Strip and to withdraw completely and immediately from the entire territory.

South Africa’s legal representatives argued that Israel has “choked off” the Rafah and Kerem Shalom goods crossings into Gaza, exacerbating an already dire humanitarian situation. 

“Closure of crossings means that starving Palestinians are now further deprived of food,” stated Professor Max du Plessis.

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The Defense Ministry’s Coordinator for Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) countered these claims, noting that the Kerem Shalom crossing had reopened after being shut down on May 5 due to a nearby attack by Hamas. 

“On Wednesday, 248 trucks of humanitarian aid were inspected and transferred to the Gaza Strip, along with two fuel tankers,” COGAT reported.

AP Photo/Patrick Post
British jurist Malcolm Shaw, right, legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry Tal Becker, left, during the opening of the hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Jan. 11, 2024AP Photo/Patrick Post

South African attorney Dr. Adila Hassim stressed the urgency of international intervention, asserting, “Israel has the power to determine whether every Palestinian in Gaza lives or dies. History warns us what happens next. We cannot stand by and wait for it to happen again.”

IDF Spokesperson
Content of the humanitarian aid trucks on the Gaza side of the Kerem Shalom crossing, waiting to be collected and distributed by UN agencies.IDF Spokesperson

Hassim accused Israel of genocidal actions, claiming, “Israel has killed 14,000 Palestinian children in Gaza,” although the UN revised this figure to 7,797 as of May 8.

She also alleged that mass graves had been discovered at Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where she claimed Israeli forces executed Palestinian men, women, and children. However, open-source information indicated these graves were dug and filled by Palestinians before Israeli forces entered the hospital.

IDF Spokesperson's Unit
Israel Defense Forces coordinating the delivery of fuel to Al-Nasser hospital in Khan Yunis, Gaza StripIDF Spokesperson’s Unit

In their opening statement, South Africa’s representatives denounced Israel for what they termed an “ongoing genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza. 

Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, accused Israel of ignoring previous ICJ orders and UN Security Council instructions, stating, “Israel’s genocide has continued apace since the last court hearing and has just reached a new and horrific stage in Rafah.”

Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90
Israeli airstrike on Rafah, May 7, 2025.Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90

Professor Vaughan Lowe, representing South Africa, argued that Israel’s actions in Rafah are aimed at the complete destruction of Gaza as a habitable area. “It is increasingly clear that Israel’s endgame for Gaza is to utterly destroy it as an area of human habitation,” Lowe claimed. 

(AP Photo/Patrick Post)
Judges start a hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands.(AP Photo/Patrick Post)

He reiterated his denial of Israel’s right to self-defense, despite having previously acknowledged that “no state is obliged by law passively to suffer the delivery of an attack.”

Lowe concluded by warning the court, “If it does not intervene now, the possibility of rebuilding a viable Palestinian society in Gaza will be destroyed,” and added, “Israel’s declared aim of wiping Gaza from the map is about to be realized.”

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