South Africa’s Case on Israeli Genocide

On Jan. 11 at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, South Africa presented a blistering case documenting the violations by the State of Israel of the Genocide Convention, and demanding a response from that Court, and from the world. It represents an historic day, marking a change in world paradigm, as a nation of the Global South has demanded the application of principles that the NATO bloc continuously preaches, but does not adhere to.

The presentation by the Republic of South Africa was opened by human rights lawyer Adila Hassim, who explained how Israel exerts total control over Gaza, “its territorial waters, land crossings, water, electricity, electromagnetic sphere, and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, as well as over key governmental functions”. All access in and out of the Strip are tightly controlled.

She went on to outline “the heaviest conventional bombing campaigns in the history of modern warfare,” killing more than 22,000 Palestinians in 13 weeks, and the “immediate risk of death by starvation, dehydration and disease, as a result of the ongoing siege by Israel, the destruction of Palestinian towns, the insufficient aid being allowed through to the Palestinian population, and the impossibility of distributing this limited aid while bombs fall.” Today, “93% of the population is facing crisis levels of hunger. Of all the catastrophically hungry people in the world, fully four in five are in tiny Gaza!”, Adila Hassim hammered home.

After her, South Africa’s Tembeka Ngcukaitobi dealt with the naked statements of genocidal intent by Israeli officials, as he put it, from the Prime Minister and the President, to the Ministers of Defense, of National Security, and of Energy, to various Knesset members, down to the soldiers on the front. What was clearly established in all six presentations is that the actions taken by Israel were intended to commit genocide and to force the Palestinian people to leave Gaza.

The Israeli side responded the next day, refuting flat out all the accusations. The arguments presented involved some quibbling over legalistic definition, but focused primarily on graphic descriptions of the attacks that Hamas carried out on Oct. 7. As a number of legal observers have pointed out, even if all those horrendous accusations are true, that could in no case justify the mass deaths caused by Israel in retaliation. In fact, the killing continued during the hearing.

The ICJ  has been called upon to take provisional measures against the State of Israel, ordering it to cease its invasion and end its actions preventing the means of life. A decision on the provisional measures should be delivered at some undefined point in the coming weeks. But South Africa has  already proven its case before the world court.

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