700 tunnel shafts found in Rafah, 50 cross into Egypt
    Israel informs South Africa at UN top court

    WORLD  17 May 2024 - 15:56

    Israel on May 17 countered South Africa's appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague after the top court a day earlier opened two days of hearings into a request asking it to issue additional temporary orders against Israel to require it to halt its military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah by forcing a cease-fire.

    It is the fourth time South Africa has asked the International Court of Justice for emergency measures since the nation launched proceedings alleging that Israel’s military action in its war with Hamas in Gaza amounts to genocide, according to Ynet.

    The court will decide on whether to grant South Africa's request within a few days, due to the urgency of the request, Israeli experts believe.

    If Israel ignores any new orders, the issue will go to the Security Council, where the US may side with Israel and impose a veto. However, in Jerusalem, there is fear that disobeying the orders to stop the war could further complicate Israel's political situation vis-à-vis various countries, and especially vis-à-vis important countries such as Great Britain and Germany, and may even cause those countries to consider imposing an arms embargo.

    Issuing orders that Israel will not comply with could also greatly increase the chance that the International Criminal Court in The Hague will issue arrest warrants against senior Israeli officials. The Office of the Chief Prosecutor in The Hague is already discussing several open cases against Israel and Hamas and, as far as is known, at least one of them is related to construction in the settlements and one to the war in Gaza.

    Israeli Justice Ministry official Gilad Noam called South Africa's case, which accuses Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, "completely divorced from facts and circumstances".

    "(The case) makes a mockery of the heinous charge of genocide," Noam said. "Israel is engaged in a war it did not want and did not start. it is under attack and is fighting to defend itself and its citizens."

    “Hamas has vowed to continue the atrocities of October 7 many times over. Rafah in particular is a focal point for ongoing terrorist activity. Nearly 700 tunnel shafts have been identified in Rafah, from which approximately 50 tunnels cross into Egypt. These tunnels are used by Hamas to supply itself with weapons and ammunition and could potentially be used to smuggle out of Gaza hostages, or Hamas senior operators,” Noam told the court.

    “At what point do we say enough to South Africa’s repeated attempts to exploit the provisional measure procedure of this court in such a vile and cynical manner?” Noam wondered.

    “This war, like all wars, is tragic and terrible for Israelis and Palestinians, and it has exacted a terrible human price — but it is not genocide. I can only recall once again that Israel made it clear that if the hostages were released and Hamas were to lay down its arms the hostilities would cease.”

    “South Africa has asked the court to order the cessation of military operation by Israel in its previous request. The court has not done so. The court is well aware that to do so would mean that 132 hostages would remain to languish in Hamas’ tunnels forsaken. It would mean that Hamas would be left unhindered and free to continue its attacks against Israeli territory and Israeli civilians. It would turn the Genocide Convention into a sword rather than a shield," he added.

    Caliber.Az

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