Egypt seeks to join genocide case against Israel over Gazan deaths

Palestinians wave a national flag and an Egyptian flag as they take part in a rally calling on Egyptian authorities to open the Rafah crossing in the southern Gaza Strip in 2013. More than a decade later, Egypt has requested to join a genocide case against Israel, and many of the issues in the war remain the same. UPI/Ismael Mohamad

May 12 (UPI) -- Egypt will enter a genocide case against Israel in the International Court of Justice, joining South Africa and citing worsening attacks on Gazan civilians, Cairo announced over the weekend.

Cairo's foreign ministry declared Egypt's intention in joining the lawsuit Sunday in a statement over the "exacerbating gravity and scope of Israeli atrocities against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and the continued perpetration of systematic practices against the Palestinian people."

It accuses Israel of targeting civilians, destroying Gazan infrastructure and displacing Palestinians, leading to an "unprecedented human crisis" in violation of international law, international humanitarian law and the Geneva Convention article related to the protection of civilians in times of war.

South Africa filed its case against Israel in late December, accusing the Middle Eastern country of genocide in its war against Iran-backed Hamas in Gaza. In late January, the World Court ordered Israel to take immediate steps to end atrocities in Gaza, but as the death toll continued to rise and conditions deteriorated in the Palestinian enclave, the African nation asked the World Court in March for additional emergency measures to be added to its ordered, which were granted.

Israel has not complied with the order, criticizing the proceedings, along with Western partners, as baseless.

Israel's ongoing war in Gaza is in response to a surprise attack by Hamas on Israel on Oct., which killed more than 1,200 Israelis and saw more than 250 abducted.

The death toll in Gaza has since surpassed 35,000 people, according to Gazan health officials, who claim many of the victims are women and children.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to destroy Hamas in retaliation for the attack, but as the war has worn on and the Gazan death toll has risen, he has risked losing international support, including from the United States, which has called on Netanyahu to moderate the Israeli Defense Forces attacks on the Gaza strip in light of civilian casualties.

The United States also said it would not supply Israel with weapons for a ground invasion of Rafah, where many Palestinians have fled seeking safety.

Humanitarian officials have also faced danger. Seven international workers from the World Central Kitchen were killed by Israeli shelling in April.

"This is not only an attack against WCK, this is an attack on humanitarian organizations showing up in the most dire of situations where food is being used as a weapon of war. This is unforgivable," World Central Kitchen CEO Erin Gore, said following the IDF shelling.

Workers have also found it increasingly difficult to get medical and other humanitarian aid into the Gaza Strip, leaving civilians vulnerable to hunger and disease.

Egypt joins Turkey and Colombia in the case against Israel. Turkey has said it would join the case after Colombia signed on last month.

It could take years before the World Court in The Hague determines the genocide case, and even if the court finds merit in the charges, its rulings are largely symbolic and carry no enforcement actions or penalties.