South Africa requests additional measures from ICJ in light of Israel operations in Rafah

South Africa made an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday requesting additional provisional measures and the modification of previous provisional measures against Israel. The request came after the recent Israeli military incursion in Rafah and an order from Israel for refugees to evacuate Rafah.

The new measures call for Israel to immediately withdraw from Rafah and “cease its military offensive.” The application also requested the modification of previous provisional measures under Article 41 on the basis that “the provisional measures previously indicated by the Court are not capable of fully addressing the changed circumstances and new facts on which this Request is founded.”

South Africa stated:

[I]f Rafah is destroyed there will be little left of Gaza or of the prospects for the survival of Palestinian life in the territory … The risk to Palestinians in Rafah is particularly severe. Many, including large numbers of Palestinian children, have been killed or injured already … The Israeli assault on Rafah is deliberately inflicting on Palestinians conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction.

In December, South Africa launched its ICJ proceedings against Israel for the genocide of Palestinians. Its application indicated provisional measures including that “the State of Israel shall immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.”

Last week, the Israel Defense Forces made an order for the evacuation of Rafah and shortly began airstrikes in the area. The UN Office of the High Commissioner on Friday made calls for the ground operation to halt, with a statement from a UN expert saying, “The long-threatened Rafah invasion must not be seen as a foregone conclusion … Israel must halt this assault.” The UN further outlined that the military action and “further displacement of Gaza’s population through evacuation orders or military operations contravenes binding provisional measures imposed on Israel by the International Court of Justice.”

The UNRWA, on X (formerly Twitter) stated that the military operations have prevented aid and fuel from entering Rafah. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on X that “a massive ground attack in Rafah would lead to an epic humanitarian disaster” and that “the international community must speak with one voice for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza, the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages, and a massive surge in life-saving aid.”