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South Africa seeks urgent ICJ order for additional provisional measures

The Republic of South Africa yesterday, 10 May 2024, returned to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek an urgent order from the court for the protection of the Palestinian people in Gaza from grave and irreparable violations of their rights under the Genocide Convention, as a result of Israel’s ongoing military assault on Rafah.

The urgent application follows the escalation of Israel’s assault on Rafah, which poses extreme risk to humanitarian supplies, basic services into Gaza, the survival of the Palestinian medical system, and the very survival of Palestinians in Gaza as a group. South Africa contends that the attack on Rafah further worsens the prevailing situation and causes irreparable harm to the rights of Palestinians in Gaza and that the situation has changed significantly since the Court’s Order of 28 March 2024. 

Rafah is home to 1.5 million Palestinians. It is the last refuge in Gaza for those displaced by Israeli action, and the last viable centre for public administration and the provision of basic public services, including medical care. Since the start of the military action in Rafah, Israel has seized control of both the Rafah and the Kerem Shalom (Karem Abu Salem) crossings, effectively controlling all movement in and out of Gaza and cutting off all critical humanitarian and medical supplies, goods and fuel. Israel has further prevented medical evacuations and has treated evacuation zones as extermination zones as evidenced with the destruction of hospitals in Gaza and discovery of mass graves in other major health care facilities in the Strip.

Therefore, South Africa is calling for urgent interventions and investigations of all actions that continue to cause irreparable prejudice to the rights of Palestinians, including the use of Artificial Intelligence (‘AI’) for targeted killings. 

South Africa has therefore requested that the Court indicate the following provisional measures:

1. The State of Israel shall immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive in the Rafah Governorate. 

2. The State of Israel shall immediately take all effective measures to ensure and facilitate the unimpeded access to Gaza of United Nations and other officials engaged in the provision of humanitarian aid and assistance to the population of Gaza, as well as fact-finding missions, internationally mandated bodies or officials, investigators, and journalists, in order to assess and record conditions on the ground in Gaza and enable the effective preservation and retention of evidence, and shall ensure that its military does not act to prevent such access, provision, preservation or retention.

 3. The State of Israel shall submit an open report to the Court: (a) on all measures taken to give effect to these provisional measures within one week as from the date of this Order; and (b) on all measures taken to give effect to all previous provisional measures indicated by the Court within one month as from the date of this Order.

South Africa further requested that the Court reaffirm and seek urgent compliance by Israel with the provisional measures ordered by the Court on 26 January and 28 March 2024. In particular, South Africa petitioned the Court to urgently reaffirm the application to the Rafah and Kerem Shalom (Karem Abu Salem) crossings of provisional measure 4 of its 26 January 2024 Order and provisional measures 2(a) and (b) of its 28 March 2024 Order. These measures will require the immediate withdrawal of the Israeli forces from the two crossings to allow for the unimpeded movement of medical personnel, including the United Nations and other humanitarian personnel and medical evacuees, as well goods and services that are vital to addressing the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza.

South Africa remains firmly of the view that the necessary condition for the effective implementation of the Court’s provisional measures is a permanent ceasefire in Gaza. 

“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. The world must do more to end the persecution of Palestinians, including that of many innocent women and children.

 In this regard, South Africa is deeply heartened by the protest actions of university students in the United States and other parts of the world. We are also greatly encouraged by the adoption of the United Nations General Assembly draft resolution that recommends to the Security Council to reconsider favourably the application by the State of Palestine for full membership of the United Nations. The support to this resolution shown by 143 countries is a further demonstration that the world is listening to the cries of the Palestinians,” says President Cyril Ramaphosa.


Media enquiries: Vincent Magwenya, Spokesperson to the President, on

Issued by: The Presidency

 Union Building