South Africa has launched a case against Israel at the UN’s international court of justice (ICJ) accusing the state of committing genocide in its military campaign in Gaza.
Israel responded to the allegations “with disgust”, calling South Africa’s case a “blood libel” and urging the ICJ to reject it.
Any case at the ICJ is likely to take years to resolve, but South Africa has called for the court to convene in the next few days to issue “provisional measures” calling for a ceasefire. In March 2022, the ICJ ordered Russia to halt its offensive in Ukraine, an order which was supposed to be legally binding, but Moscow ignored it anyway. Any such ruling however is likely to significantly sway international public opinion.
“The acts and omissions by Israel complained of by South Africa are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group,” the South African application to open proceedings said.
“Provisional measures are necessary in this case to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention, which continue to be violated with impunity.”
Article IX of the Genocide Convention allows any state party to the convention to bring a case against another to the ICJ, even if it doesn’t have any direct link to the conflict in question. Last year, the court ruled that the Gambia could bring a genocide claim against Myanmar. The court also ruled in a case between Croatia and Serbia that depriving a people of food, shelter, medical care and other means of subsistence constitutes genocidal acts.
“Genocidal intent is assumed to be the most difficult element to prove, but Israelis in charge of prosecuting this conflict have made a plethora of statements that easily prove the requisite intent to ‘destroy in whole or in part’ the Palestinian population in Gaza,” said Susan Akram, director of the international human rights clinic at Boston University. [Continue reading…]