On January 2nd, Israel announced its intention to appear before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague to counter South Africa’s accusation of committing genocide against Palestinians in the ongoing war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. This response comes after South Africa launched a case against Israel, claiming that the “magnitude of death and destruction in Gaza meets the threshold of the 1948 Genocide Convention.”
South Africa’s move to bring Israel before the ICJ underscores the intensifying global scrutiny over Israel’s actions in Gaza. The South African government has asked the court to order Israel to cease its attacks in the region, pointing to the extensive humanitarian crisis in Gaza as evidence of genocidal acts under international law.
An Israeli government spokesperson accused South Africa of providing political and legal cover to Hamas’s attacks, which triggered the three-month-long war. “The state of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice at The Hague to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel,” said Eylon Levy, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Levy’s statement reflects Israel’s firm stance against the accusations, emphasizing that Hamas bears responsibility for the war and its conduct within civilian infrastructures like hospitals, schools, and mosques.
Israel has bombed several protected buildings, such as hospitals, schools, and religious buildings, and justified the action by claiming that Hamas was hiding inside the structures. The bombing of the protected structures has led to tremendous loss and civilian casualties, with the Palestinian Ministry of Health releasing a new death toll of 22,000 Palestinians, with over 9,000 of the casualties being children under the age of nine.
Levy also warned of historical judgment against South Africa’s leaders for their stance.
For decades, South Africa has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause, often likening the treatment of Palestinians to the apartheid-era experiences in South Africa, a comparison Israel vehemently denies. The upcoming ICJ hearing, scheduled for January 11th and 12th, is set to be a significant legal and diplomatic confrontation.
The announcement of Israel’s participation in the ICJ proceedings coincides with ongoing fierce fighting in southern Gaza. The Palestinian Red Crescent Society reported that Israeli forces hit its headquarters in Khan Younis, leading to several casualties among displaced people sheltering there.