ICJ still deliberating on SA-Israel-Palestine genocide case

There is still no date on when the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will deliver a decision on South Africa’s alleged genocide case against Israel.

South Africa has asked the ICJ to take provisional emergency measures to immediately suspend Israel’s military operations in Gaza and “take all reasonable measures” to prevent genocide. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has remained defiant. “No one will stop us, not The Hague, not the [Iranian-led] axis of evil and not anyone else,” he said  last Saturday.

PHOTO SUPPLIED: the team representing SA at the ICJ

South Africa presented its case on 11 January 2024 under the 1948 Genocide Convention. It “unequivocally” condemned the atrocities committed by Hamas on Oct. 7 but argued no attack justifies the scale of Israel’s offensive in Gaza inflicting on Palestinians “conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction” as a group.

South Africa also argued Israel’s assault on Gaza had a “genocidal intent” and presented 20 minutes’ worth of statements made by top Israeli officials, including Netanyahu’s comparison of Palestinians to the biblical story of the Amalek nation, which God ordered the Israelites to destroy. The court heard that a deputy speaker of Israel’s parliament called “for the erasure of the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth.”

In its occupation, “Israel for years has regarded itself as beyond and above the law,” one of South Africa’s lawyers, Max Du Plessis, told the court.

Israel, in its response, asked the court to dismiss the case, insisting that it is acting within its right to defend itself against Hamas after the group and its allies killed 1,200 people and took more than 240 hostage. “The appalling suffering of civilians, both Israeli and Palestinian, is first and foremost the result of Hamas’s strategy,” said Israeli legal advisor Tal Becker.

Israel’s lawyers rejected the suggestion that the comments made by Netanyahu and other senior officials proved that Israel had genocidal intent and said the statements did not reflect official government policy.

“Some of the comments to which South Africa refers are clearly rhetorical, made in the immediate aftermath of an event which severely traumatized Israel,” said Malcolm Shaw, a member of Israel’s legal team. In order for South Africa to win the case, it has to prove direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Pretoria’s lawyers argued that incitement filtered down from government officials to Israeli soldiers.



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