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Israel responds to South Africa’s genocide accusation at ICJ

On Thursday, South Africa presented its case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague, accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention. The death toll from Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7 stands at a devastating 23,469, with nearly 10,000 of them estimated to be children. Additionally, over 59,604 people are estimated to have been injured.

Israel defended itself at The Hague on Friday, when Tal Becker, the legal advisor to the Israeli foreign ministry, stated in his opening remarks, "The applicant has regrettably put before the court a profoundly distorted factual and legal picture. This case hinges on a deliberately curated decontextualized and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities.”

Becker further contended that the court should implement provisional measures against South Africa, citing the country's close affiliations with Hamas. Mr. Becker leveled a series of attacks against South Africa, claiming that the country was making an "attempt to weaponize the term genocide against Israel”.

Israel claims that civilian casualties, which have surpassed 23,000 dead (constituting about 1% of Gaza's population), as well as the extensive destruction of Palestinian infrastructure, can be attributed to Hamas, whether through direct or indirect means.

Galit Raguan, the acting director of the international justice division at Israel's Justice Ministry, attributed the significant civilian casualties in Gaza to Hamas and stated that Israel had not targeted hospitals in its operations.

British international law professor Malcolm Shaw subsequently addressed the assembly, challenging South Africa's characterization of the situation as a "dispute" between the two countries, instead terming it a "unispute."

Gilad Noam, Israel’s deputy attorney general for international affairs, presented Israel’s final arguments. He opposed the implementation of provisional measures, citing multiple reasons, one of which was the recognition of Hamas as a terrorist organization by Israel and various other countries. Noam emphasized that Hamas had perpetrated "a large-scale terrorist attack," reinforcing Israel's right to defend itself and its stance against the use of provisional measures.

The court’s decision, which could take months or even years, is expected to have significant implications for the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the broader landscape of International law. 


Edited by Tanya Kekic


Image credit: Al Jazeera

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