Israel Rejects South Africa’s Accusations of Genocide in Gaza at UN Court

Israel Rejects South Africa

In a strong rebuttal on Friday, Israel dismissed accusations brought by South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that its military operation in Gaza constitutes state-led genocide against Palestinians.

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Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Israel labeled the claims as “false” and “grossly distorted,” emphasizing its actions were aimed at defending itself and combating the militant group Hamas, not the Palestinian civilian population.

Lawyer Malcolm Shaw, representing Israel, categorically stated, “This is no genocide.”

South Africa had presented its case at the ICJ, alleging that Israel’s offensive, responsible for significant casualties in Gaza, sought the “destruction of the population” in the enclave. Israel countered by asserting its adherence to international law and its inherent right to self-defense.

The conflict in Gaza was triggered by a cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7. Israel contended that its response was necessitated to safeguard its citizens, resulting in casualties, primarily among civilians, and the taking of hostages.

Tal Becker, the legal adviser to the Israeli foreign ministry, attributed the civilian suffering to Hamas’ strategic choices, stating, “If there were acts of genocide, they have been perpetrated against Israel. Hamas seeks genocide against Israel.”

The legal debate at the ICJ centered on the 1948 Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.

While South Africa sought emergency measures, including an order for Israel to halt its offensive, the court is expected to rule later this month. However, the genocide accusations will undergo separate proceedings, likely taking years to conclude.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators in The Hague chanted slogans during the Israeli delegation’s presentation, reflecting the deeply entrenched emotions surrounding the conflict. Meanwhile, Israeli supporters held a separate gathering highlighting the plight of hostages taken by Hamas.

South Africa, known for its historical support of the Palestinian cause, has faced accusations of acting as a mouthpiece for Hamas. Israel asserts that South Africa’s stance aligns with the terrorist group, a claim vehemently denied by South African authorities.

As the ICJ deliberates on the case, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza persists, with a vast majority of its population displaced amid ongoing hostilities.