Egypt to intervene in ICJ case as Israel tensions rise

Palestinians flee Rafah after Israeli forces launched a ground and air operation in the eastern part of the southern Gaza city

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt on Sunday said it would intervene in support of South Africa's case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, citing the growing scale of Israel's operations in Gaza and their impact on civilians.

The move highlights growing tensions between the two neighbours as the Israeli operation in border town Rafah tests long-term agreements and security cooperation.

"The announcement of the intervention in this case comes in light of the expansion in scope and scale of Israeli violations against civilians in Gaza," the Egyptian foreign ministry said, without specifying what the intervention would entail. Egypt has in the past presented arguments in the case.

South Africa asked the court on Friday to order Israel to withdraw from Rafah as part of additional emergency measures in an ongoing case that accuses Israel of acts of genocide.

Egyptian security sources told Reuters that Egyptian officials had relayed to Israel that they blamed its actions for the strained bilateral relations and the breakdown of ceasefire talks delegations from Hamas, Israel, the U.S., Egypt and Qatar have held in Cairo.

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that governs Gaza, welcomed Cairo's ICJ move.

"We appreciate the announcement by the sister Arab Republic of Egypt of its intention to join the lawsuit filed by the Republic of South Africa," Hamas said in a statement.

Asked about the 1979 treaty between the two countries in light of the Rafah operation, Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry on Sunday said that the treaty between the two countries was necessary to ensure security, and that it had mechanisms to handle any violations, without going into detail.

(Reporting by Nayera Abdallah in Dubai, Ahmed Mohamed Hassan and Nidal Al Mughrabi in Cairo, writing by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)