STORY: South Africa is urging the U.N.'s top court to order Israel to halt its offensive on Rafah.

On Thursday, South Africa's ambassador to the Netherlands -- Vusimuzi Madonsela -- asked judges to order Israel to withdraw its army from the whole Gaza Strip.

"Israel's genocide has continued apace and has just reached a new and horrific stage."

The two days of hearings at the International Court of Justice are part of a case brought by South Africa accusing Israel of genocide.

Last week, South Africa asked for extra measures to protect Rafah, where more than a million Palestinians have been sheltering.

It also wants the court to order Israel to allow U.N. officials, humanitarian aid groups, journalists and investigators unimpeded access to the enclave.

Israel is set to respond in court on Friday.

It has described South Africa's claims as baseless and on social media Israel's Foreign Ministry said its military abides by international law.

More than 35,000 Palestinians have been killed in Israel's assault on Gaza, according to health officials there.

The war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and abducting more than 250 others, according to Israeli tallies.

Israel says it needs to eliminate Hamas for its own protection.

In January, the court ordered Israel to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza, allow in more humanitarian aid and preserve any evidence of violations.

In filings, Israel has stressed that it's stepped up efforts to get aid into Gaza.

This week's hearings will only look at emergency measures.

It will likely be years before the court can rule on the charge of genocide.

The court's rulings and orders are binding and cannot be appealed.

While the court has no way to enforce them, an order against a country could hurt its international reputation and set legal precedent.