South Africa’s ICJ genocide case against Israel over Gaza war

  • The International Court of Justice is hearing arguments that Israel is committing genocide in its war on Gaza.
  • South Africa filed the lawsuit in December, in a move welcomed by several countries amid a global chorus for a ceasefire in Gaza.

    Vusimuzi Madonsela takes the floor

    This is how South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands opened his speech:

    “I wish to express my gratitude to the court for convening this hearing on the earliest possible date to entertain South Africa’s requests for the indication of provisional measures in this matter in our application.”

    “South Africa has recognised the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people through Israel’s colonisation since 1948”.

    The registrar is reading South Africa’s case against Israel

    The first point is that Israel should immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza.

    A reminder that more than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed and almost 60,000 wounded by Israeli attacks since October 7.

    ‘I’m grateful to South Africa’ for filing the case: Expert

    Adama Dieng, former UN under-secretary-general and special adviser on the prevention of genocide, has spoken to Al Jazeera about the importance of the ICJ case. Here are his main points:

    • I’m really grateful to South Africa for having taken this case because it is about prevention, and the obligation to prevent genocide is a responsibility for all of us.
    • The most difficult element is obtaining evidence for intent. It will take a long time to get the evidence.
    • Using the G word (genocide) is something serious, and we should not use it lightly.
    • In the case of Gaza, and what we have seen, water being cut, medical facilities and people being displaced – one may ask the question.
    • We are not saying that there is a genocide which is occurring right now. A court of justice will better define this.

      The hearing is now under way

      Proceedings at the ICJ have started.

      Joan Donoghue, current president of the ICJ, is introducing South African Judge Dikgang Ernest Moseneke and Israeli Judge Aharon Barak, who have both taken oaths as ad hoc judges for this case.

      Proceedings at the ICJ about to start

      The hearing in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel is about to start at the ICJ.

      Based on the schedule that has been shared, proceedings will start in five minutes (09:00 GMT) with Ronald Lamona, South Africa’s justice minister, to deliver the opening remarks. Today’s hearing is expected to last three hours.

      South Africans welcome ICJ genocide case against Israel

      South Africa’s move to take Israel to the International Court of Justice over genocide charges has been welcomed by many South Africans.

      Today, many have gathered outside the Palestinian embassy in Pretoria to watch the proceedings.

      Given South Africa’s history of apartheid, colonialism and racism, this is something many South Africans identify with very strongly in terms of the subjugation of a particular ethnic group.

      South Africa’s government says Israel, as the occupier of a territory and a people, has the obligation to abide by the UN conventions and prevent genocide, including what it calls “collective punishment”.

      ‘The legacy of a liberated South Africa lives on’

      Palestinian-American congresswoman Rashida Tlaib says the US, UK and Israel were some of the last nations to end support of the apartheid regime in South Africa.

      “The legacy of a liberated South Africa lives on as a country that defeated apartheid takes the Israeli apartheid regime to The Hague for genocide,” she said in a post on X.

      The US and the UK have refused to support South Africa’s case at the ICJ.

      “There is a compelling argument that genocide is being committed in Gaza on the basis that there is an annihilation or cleansing of a civilian population, innocent civilians, children and women that have been displaced [and] the targeting of public infrastructure in Gaza,” Lamola said.

      He added that statements made by Israeli politicians and military figures indicated that they “aimed to annihilate the entire population of Palestine from the Gaza Strip”.

      Pro-Palestine demonstrators in The Hague

      A small group of pro-Palestine demonstrators have gathered in The Hague with the hearings into South Africa’s case to start shortly.

      The demonstrators are seen carrying Palestine flags and calling for an end to the war and Israel’s atrocities in Gaza.

      Failure to stop genocide will impact generations to come: Zomlot

      Husam Zomlot, head of the Palestinian mission to the UK, has called on the British government “not to miss this opportunity to uphold its own obligations under the Genocide Convention and support international efforts at the ICJ to halt Israel’s aggression on Gaza”.

      In a video posted on social media, he called the case a “compelling indictment of Israel’s actions and intent to commit genocide in occupied Gaza”.

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