South Africa requests ICJ implement urgent additional provisional measures in Israel genocide case

South Africa filed an urgent request with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Wednesday for additional provisional measures and/or adjustments to court’s January 26 order and February 16 decision in country’s case against Israel, alleging Israel is carrying out genocide in the Gaza Strip.

South Africa claimed their Wednesday request is necessitated by the changes to the situation in Gaza that have arisen since it originally filed the case with the ICJ such as health crises, particularly in northern Gaza, and the threat of famine. South Africa said the request is meant “to ensure the safety and security of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza” and prevent Israel from “continuing egregious breaches” of the provisional measures the ICJ handed down on January 26.

The ability to modify or add to the provisional measures in a previously-issued ICJ order is given in Article 41 of Statute of the ICJ. Articles 75(1), 75(3), and 76(1) of the Rules of Court also pertain to the court’s ability to modify or add to the provisional measures.

South Africa originally filed an application instituting proceedings and applied for provisional measures against Israel in December 2023. South Africa alleged that Israel was violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the ongoing war in Gaza. The court prioritized South Africa’s application under Article 74 of the Rules of Court so that the court was able to issue an order less than a month later. In its January 26 order, the Court indicated six provisional measures. The measures included an order for Israel to either end or de-escalate the war. Israel has yet to comply with the order.

South Africa then applied for additional provisional measures on February 12, noting the “significant development” of the Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel’s statement on February 9. In that statement, the office stated, “It is impossible to achieve the goal of the war of eliminating Hamas by leaving four Hamas battalions in Rafah.” The ICJ found on February 16 that this statement did not demand the implementation of additional provisional measures past what had already been issued, but instead demanded effective and immediate implementation of the existing measures.

The current application is separate and apart from the February 12 request. As such, it is unaffected by the court’s February 16 decision.

The war in Gaza continues to rage on between Israel and Hamas. While there are ongoing discussions regarding a ceasefire for the upcoming holy month of Ramadan, there is no agreement yet. Ramadan begins on Sunday. The death toll of the war is now estimated to be over 30,000 people. UN experts have warned that the humanitarian conditions in northern Gaza have deteriorated significantly as aid efforts have been significantly hindered. One expert recently estimated that over 2.3 million people in Gaza are currently “living in appalling conditions.”