South Africa Accuses Israel of Genocide


Sudan Events – Sumaya Sayed

South Africa’s submission to the International Court of Justice alleges that “acts and omissions by Israel are genocidal in character” as they are committed with the intent “to destroy Palestinians in Gaza” as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group.
South Africa asked The Hague-based court to issue an interim order for Israel to immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza. A hearing into that request is likely in the coming days or weeks. The case, if it goes ahead, will take years, but an interim order could be issued within weeks.
The Israeli government rejected “with disgust” the genocide accusations, calling it a “blood libel.” A Foreign Ministry statement said South Africa’s case lacks a legal foundation and constitutes a “despicable and contemptuous exploitation” of the court.
The statement also said Israel operates according to international law and focuses its military actions solely against Hamas, adding that the residents of Gaza are not an enemy. It asserted that it takes steps to minimize harm to civilians and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the territory.
South Africa can bring the case under the Genocide Convention because both it and Israel are signatories to it.
Whether the case will succeed in halting the war remains to be seen. While the court’s orders are legally binding, they are not always followed. In March 2022, the court ordered Russia to halt hostilities in Ukraine, a binding legal ruling that Moscow flouted as it pressed ahead with its attacks.
South Africa’s foreign ministry said in a statement that the country is “gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants.”
South Africa’s president earlier accused Israel of war crimes and acts “tantamount to genocide.” And South Africa last month pushed for the International Criminal Court, which also is based in The Hague, to investigate Israel’s actions in Gaza.
The ICC prosecutes individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, while the International Court of Justice settles disputes between nations.

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