South Africa Takes Israel to World Court, Accusing Them of ‘Systematic Genocidal Acts’ in Gaza, Calls for Immediate Halt to Military Campaign

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“That is evident from the way in which this military attack is being conducted,” he said, adding: “The intent to destroy Gaza has been nurtured at the highest level of state.”

The UN’s top court opened hearings on Thursday into South Africa’s allegation that Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, a claim that Israel strongly denies. Photo: AP

Israel has rejected the accusations of genocide as baseless and accused Pretoria of playing “advocate of the devil” for Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist militant group Israel is waging war against in Gaza.

The 1948 Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

South Africa points to Israel’s sustained bombing campaign that has killed over 23,000 people in the small, densely populated Gaza Strip, according to health authorities in the Hamas-rum territory.

“Every day, there is mounting, irreparable loss of life, property, dignity, and humanity for the Palestinian people,” said Adila Hassim, advocate of South Africa’s high court.

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“Nothing will stop the suffering, except an order from this court.”

South Africa has demanded that the ICJ order Israel to suspend its military campaign.

Israel launched all-out war after a cross-border rampage on October 7 by Hamas militants in which Israeli officials said 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage back to Gaza.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said South Africa condemned Hamas’ October 7 assault, but added that any attack, even one involving atrocious crimes, was not a justification for violations of the Genocide Convention.

Post-apartheid South Africa has long defended the Palestinian cause, a relationship forged when the African National Congress’ struggle against white-minority rule was cheered on by Yasser Arafat’s Palestine Liberation Organisation.

Emergency ruling

The ICJ is hearing South Africa’s arguments on Thursday and Israel’s response to the allegations on Friday.

It is expected to rule on possible emergency measures later this month. The court will not rule at that time on the genocide allegations – those proceedings could take years.

The ICJ’s decisions are final and without appeal – but the court has no way to enforce them.

Ahead of the proceedings, hundreds of pro-Israeli protesters marched close to the courthouse with banners saying “Bring them home,” referring to the hostages still held by Hamas. Among the crowds, people were holding Israeli and Dutch flags.

Outside the court, others were protesting and waving the Palestinian flag in support of South Africa’s move.

Palestinian supporters rally during demonstrations, simultaneously at the hearing at the International Court of Justice on a genocide complaint by South Africa against Israel, in The Hague, the Netherlands on Thursday. Photo: EPA-EFE

Gabi Patlis, a native of Tel Aviv who now lives in the Netherlands, said it was painful to hear Israel accused of genocide. “Especially after 7 October – we were the ones that were attacked,” he told Reuters at the rally.

The dispute strikes at the heart of Israel’s national identity as a Jewish state created in the aftermath of the Nazi genocide in the Holocaust.

It also involves South Africa’s identity: Its governing party, the African National Congress, has long compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank to its own history under the apartheid regime of white minority rule, which restricted most Blacks to “homelands” before ending in 1994.

Israel says allegations baseless

Israeli forces launched their offensive after Hamas fighters carried out a lightning attack across the border in what became the deadliest day in Israel’s 75-year history.

Since then, the offensive has laid much of the heavily built-up territory, and nearly all its 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes at least once, causing a humanitarian catastrophe.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on social media platform X: “I want to make a few points absolutely clear: Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population.”

Israel has said it is waging war against Palestinian militants, not the Palestinian people.

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In its court filings, South Africa cites Israel’s failure to provide food, water, medicine and other essential help to Gaza, where Hamas seized power in 2007, two years after Israel ended a 38-year occupation of the enclave.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters that the group was following the World Court proceedings with great interest.

“Justice is going to be tested today,” he said.

“We urge the court to reject all pressure and take a decision to criminalise the Israeli occupation and stop the aggression on Gaza.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

(The following story may or may not have been edited by NEUSCORP.COM and was generated automatically from a Syndicated Feed. NEUSCORP.COM also bears no responsibility or liability for the content.)

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