SOUTH Africa said it has lodged an “urgent request” with the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider whether Israel’s military operations targeting the city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip constitute a breach of the provisional orders the court handed down in the genocide case last month.

South Africa made the announcement on Tuesday and said in a statement that it has asked the court in The Hague to rule whether Israel’s indication that it would launch a ground offensive in Rafah – where 1.4 million Palestinians have fled to escape fighting – represents a “further imminent breach of the rights of Palestinians in Gaza”.

The international court handed down a preliminary ruling last month in South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza. The ruling ordered Israel to do all it can do prevent the deaths of Palestinian civilians.

READ MORE: Rafah: Attacks intensify as truce discussions in Egypt proceed

It comes as Israel and Hamas are making progress towards a deal that aims to bring about a ceasefire and free hostages held in the war-ravaged region, according to two officials with direct knowledge of the talks, as key meetings continued between the sides in the Egyptian capital on Tuesday.

Talks are moving forward even after Israel intensified its offensive in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, where 1.4 million displaced Palestinians have fled to seek shelter from fighting elsewhere.

A brazen Israeli hostage rescue mission freed two captives held in the town along the Egyptian border, a raid that killed at least 74 Palestinians, according to local health officials, and left a trail of destruction.

Residents and displaced Palestinians in Gaza were searching through the rubble from Israeli air strikes that provided cover for the Israeli forces.

While concerns have grown over Rafah because it is sheltering such a massive influx of Palestinians, fighting was continuing throughout the Gaza Strip, with the Israeli military saying troops were battling militants in Gaza’s second largest city, Khan Younis, and in central Gaza.

The Health Ministry in Hamas-run Gaza said the bodies of 133 people killed in Israeli strikes were taken to hospitals over the past day.

The fatalities took the death toll in Gaza to 28,473 since the war began, according to the ministry, which said more than 68,000 people have been wounded.

A deal would give people in Gaza a desperately needed respite from the war, now in its fifth month, and offer freedom for at least some of the 100 people still held captive in Gaza.

With the war grinding on, efforts mediated by Qatar, the US and Egypt to bring about a deal have been hampered by the starkly disparate positions of Hamas and Israel.