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Egypt to back South Africa genocide ICJ case against Israel as war in Gaza rages

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Egypt on Sunday announced its intention to formally support South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice against Israel, alleging genocide in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Pretoria brought its case to the ICJ in December, calling on the UN court to order Israel to suspend its military operations in Gaza.

In its most recent appeal to the ICJ on Friday, South Africa again accused Israel of “continuing violations of the Genocide Convention” and of being “contemptuous” of international law.

Egypt on Sunday said its move to back the case comes “in light of the worsening severity and scope of Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip”, according to a foreign ministry statement.

A woman reacts outside a trauma ward at the Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir el-Balah after a child relative died. Photo: AFP

It further pointed to Israel’s systematic “targeting of civilians and destruction of infrastructure” and “pushing Palestinians into displacement and expulsion”.

Hamas expressed its “appreciation” to Egypt in a statement Sunday evening, calling on “all countries around the world to take similar steps in support of the Palestinian cause by joining the lawsuit”.

South Africa has called on the world’s top court to order Israel to “immediately withdraw and cease its military offensive” in Rafah, the southernmost Gaza city where about 1.5 million Palestinians had been pushed against the Egyptian border.

Israel on Monday sent ground troops and tanks into eastern Rafah, later seizing and shutting the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Friday that Gaza risked an “epic humanitarian disaster” if Israel launched a full-scale ground operation in Rafah.

Egypt was the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel in 1979, and has acted as a key mediator between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators, including in the current war.

It also shares the only border with the Gaza Strip not controlled by Israel, but has refused to coordinate aid access through the Rafah crossing since Israeli forces seized it.

State-linked television channel Al-Qahera News on Sunday reported a high-level source denying Israeli media reports of “coordination between Israel and Egypt at the Rafah crossing”.

Egypt has also issued repeated warnings against escalation since negotiators from both Israel and Hamas departed Cairo on Thursday after talks again failed to achieve a truce.

In January the ICJ called on Israel to prevent acts of genocide following the original South African request for international action.

The court rejected a second South African application for emergency measures over Israel’s threat to attack Rafah. South Africa made a new request in early March.

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