Israel and South Africa face off at the International Court of Justice over Gaza genocide case
01/15/2024 // Laura Harris // Views

Tensions reached a boiling point at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague as South Africa and Israel faced off in a two-day hearing over allegations of genocide in Gaza.

On Dec. 29, 2023, South Africa filed a case against Israel at the ICJ for violating the 1948 Genocide Convention and committing acts that meet the threshold of genocide under international law. South Africa claims that Israel failed to uphold its obligations under the Genocide Convention, accusing it of committing acts with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group – referring to Palestinians in Gaza.

During the hearing period on Jan. 11, South Africa claimed that the ground and air assaults of Israel on Gaza were aimed at the "destruction" of the Palestinian population. Lawyers for South Africa urged the ICJ to order Israel to suspend its military operation in Gaza to protect Palestinians.

"Israel's genocidal acts and omissions within the broader context of Israel’s 25-year apartheid, 56-year occupation, and 16-year siege imposed on the Gaza Strip. Israel deployed 6,000 bombs per week … No one is spared. Not even newborns. United Nations (UN) chiefs have described it as a graveyard for children. Nothing will stop the suffering, except an order from this court," South African lawyer Adila Hassim said in their opening statement. (Related: Genocide case against Israel gets underway at International Court of Justice.)

Israel vehemently denied the accusations, dismissing the entire case as absurd. The Israeli government accused Pretoria of siding with Hamas and labeled South Africa an "advocate of the devil" for the terrorist organization.

Government spokesperson Eylon Levy called it "tragic that the rainbow nation that prides itself on fighting racism will be fighting pro-bono for the anti-Jewish racists." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accused South Africa of hypocrisy, pointing out that charges were not brought against Hamas, despite the terror group's charter advocating the destruction of Israel and the killing of its people.

"The hypocrisy of South Africa screams to the heavens," Netanyahu said. "We are fighting terrorists; we are fighting lies. Today we saw an upside-down world. Israel is accused of genocide while it is fighting against genocide."

On the second and final day of the hearing on Jan. 12, Israel argued that its military actions in Gaza were acts of self-defense, specifically targeting the militant group Hamas rather than the Palestinian population. The country denied displaying genocidal intent and emphasized its compliance with international humanitarian law.

ICJ's final decision on genocide charges could take several years

Israel argued that the Genocide Convention, to which both countries are signatories, was designed to address exceptional circumstances and not the impact of intensive hostilities on civilians during warfare. Tal Becker, representing Israel, acknowledged the historical context of the convention, rooted in the Holocaust, but contended that the term "genocide" was being weaponized against Israel.

The ICJ, established after World War II, heard the case based on South Africa's request for provisional measures, akin to a restraining order, to halt the conflict while the court considers the full case. Israel called for the dismissal of the case, asserting it was groundless.

Israel presented evidence of Hamas' actions, describing them as "carnage and sadism," and argued that if there were acts resembling genocide, they were perpetrated against Israel. The court was shown a video where a Hamas leader stated, "We will do this again and again," following an attack on October 7.

The conflict escalated when Israel launched a military operation against the Hamas terror group in Gaza, responding to a surprise attack on October 7, where Hamas killed over 1,200 people and took more than 200 hostages. South Africa, while condemning the Hamas attacks, argues that the response of Israel is disproportionate and unjustifiable.

According to the court filings, South Africa accused Israel of failing to provide essential humanitarian assistance, including food, water and medicine, to Gaza. The sustained bombing campaign is cited as responsible for over 23,000 casualties, according to Gaza health authorities, without distinguishing between combatants and civilians.

Furthermore, South Africa points to the statements of some Israeli leaders as indicative of their "genocidal intent." Several high-profile Israeli politicians have recently made incendiary comments, calling for the destruction of Gaza.

The ICJ is not empowered to enforce its rulings, and a final decision on the genocide charges could take several years. However, a decision on South Africa's request for "provisional measures" compelling Israel to cease its military campaign could be reached within weeks. Non-compliance might result in UN sanctions, although a U.S. veto could potentially block such measures.

Visit for more stories about Israel's war crimes in the Gaza Strip.

Watch Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounce the ICC as "antisemitic" for its intent to investigate Israel's war crimes.

This video is from The Prisoner channel on

More related stories:

South Africa accuses Israel of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention.

BRICS core member South Africa urges ICC to PROSECUTE Israel for war crimes.

ALONE IN THE DESERT: South Africa, Chad join DIPLOMATIC BOYCOTT of Israel, adding to the growing list of countries protesting against Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

Israel preparing to defend itself against South Africa’s genocide accusations at International Court of Justice.

U.S.-based rights group calls on ICC to investigate Israeli commanders’ WAR CRIMES.

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