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Welcoming South Africa’s Request for Provisional Measures, Palestinian Organisations call for the Immediate Cessation of Military Operations across Gaza and Withdrawal of Israeli Army
14، May 2024

The Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO) and the Palestinian Human Rights Organisations Council (PHROC), together representing 133 Palestinian civil society organisations welcome South Africa’s urgent request to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for the modification and indication of provisional measures based on Israel’s ongoing military assault on Rafah and the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation across Gaza. Given the extreme deterioration of the situation, with over 35,000 Palestinians killed, and another 10,000 missing and presumed dead under the rubble –– the displaced locked into the destroyed and besieged Gaza Strip, intentionally starved, targeted and killed in their shelters and hospitals, and systematically targeted at home by Israeli artificial intelligence software –– a full cessation of Israel’s genocidal military offensive in Gaza is urgently needed. As urged by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, the opportunity to call for a full cessation of hostilities, “cannot be missed”.

Rafah is now effectively the last refuge in Gaza. One of the few areas of the Gaza Strip that has not been almost completely levelled to the ground, Rafah’s population has increased nearly sixfold as a result of Israel’s unlawful evacuation orders which has resulted in the mass displacement of 75 percent of the Palestinian population in Gaza, from the north to the south. Around one million Palestinians are now seeking shelter in Rafah designated as a “safe zone” from the constant shelling and obtaining increasingly scarce, but essential, humanitarian aid. However, despite unilaterally designating Rafah as a safe zone, Israel has repeatedly bombarded the city. Since 6 May, after two weeks of increased air strikes, Rafah has also been subjected to a military ground invasion. The UN reported that “recent evacuation orders and intensified military activity in Rafah have forced a reversal in the scale-up of nutrition services while the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition continues to increase”. The Rafah and Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) crossings, the only points through which aid has been allowed to enter the besieged southern and middle areas of the Strip are now completely controlled by Israel. Israel has shut off the Rafah crossing, and no aid has been allowed to enter Gaza since Israel’s ground invasion, a move condemned by the entire international community as having “catastrophic consequences” that “must be prevented”.

South Africa stated in its request for the modification and indication of provisional measures that “[t}he risk to Palestinians remaining in Rafah is particularly severe” as testimony from

Israeli soldiers highlighted that evacuation zones are subsequently treated as “zones of extermination” in which all remaining Palestinians are considered legitimate targets. As such nowhere is safe in Gaza. In paragraph 25 of the Request, South Africa set out a call for three additional 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.

Our organisations strongly support the call for additional provisional measures. However, this call must include Israel’s full cessation of hostilities across Gaza, including Rafah and the full withdrawal of Israeli forces from the territory. Israel’s genocidal acts are continuing and escalating across the Gaza Strip.

Following months of targeted Israeli strikes and raids on health centres across the Gaza Strip, there are no fully functioning hospitals remaining. Mass graves continue to be uncovered at Nasser and Al-Shifa hospitals. Over 400 bodies have been exhumed from seven mass graves on the hospital complexes, many of the bodies found with their arms tied behind their back, with missing limbs, and some even beheaded. This is not an unavoidable consequence of a conflict –– it is the intentional extermination and destruction of an entire population. Since South Africa submitted its request for additional provisional measures on 10 May, Israel has escalated its attacks across Gaza, from Rafah in the south to Deir al Balah in the middle, to Jabalia refugee camp in the north. Nowhere is safe in Gaza –– “There’s NO safety without a ceasefire.”

With no way out and no means of survival, the world is witnessing in real time, the genocidal destruction of Gaza and everyone in it. PHROC and PNGO thank South Africa and the South African people for their unwavering and principled commitment in holding Israel to account to end the genocide. We urge the use of all available tools to demand an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and an end to Israel’s settler-colonial, apartheid regime. We call on the International Court of Justice, to issue broad provisional measures requiring Israel to immediately cease its military operations in Gaza and fully withdraw from the territory, to prevent further genocidal acts and irreparable harm to the Palestinian people.

Yours Sincerely,

Palestinian Non-Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO)*

Palestinian Human Rights Organizations Council:


Addameer Prisoners Support and Human Rights Association

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights

Hurryyat- Center for Defence of Civil Liberties and Human Rights

Jerusalem Center for Legal Aid and Human Rights

Aldameer Association for Human Rights

Defence for Children International - Palestine

Muwatin Institute for Democracy and Human Rights (Observer)

Independent Commission for Human Rights (Observer)

* Palestinian NGO’s Network (PNGO) is a civil and democratic body, which seeks to support, consolidate, and strengthen the Palestinian civil society on the basis of the principles of democracy, social justice and sustainable development. It strives for the attainment of the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people. It is a Palestinian NGO umbrella organization comprising 132 member organizations working in different developmental fields.