South Africa will open proceedings against Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague, Netherlands, on January 11.
South Africa says Israeli attack on Gaza violates its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The next day, Israel will present its case to the ICJ.
More than 22,000 Palestinians have been killed since Israel’s bombing campaign began on October 7. Additionally, basic supplies have been cut off, including food and water, further depriving Gaza’s 2.3 million residents, who have had to survive a 17-year blockade.
Israel has repeatedly denied that it is violating international law. This, despite triggering “a large-scale military attack by land, air and sea, on a narrow strip of land of approximately 365 square kilometers”, according to the notes submitted by South Africa.
South Africa is seeking an interim order from the ICJ or World Court that would force Tel Aviv to end its attack on Gaza.
Even if the arguments are strong, the determination will not come down to legalities: politics will play a major role in the outcome.
The United States supports the massacre of Israel, including by supplying it with weapons, and it has also blocked attempts by the United Nations to stop it.
However, 153 UN member states voted in favor of a non-permanent humanitarian ceasefire on December 12, with only 10 countries – including the United States – voting against.
“Israel, since October 7, 2023 in particular, has failed to prevent genocide and has failed to pursue direct and public incitement to genocide,” it reads. South Africa’s candidacy. It lists eight UN reports that concluded that Israel’s past attacks on Gaza violated international law.
“Even more serious, Israel has engaged, has engaged and risks further engaging in acts of genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the text continues.
The Genocide Convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group”, by killing, causing serious bodily harm or mental, inflicting physically destructive conditions, preventing births or death. forced abduction of children.
South Africa says repeated statements by senior Israeli officials and cuts to water, food, medicine and fuel in Gaza demonstrate genocidal intent: 85% of Gaza residents are now internally displaced from the country.
The report emphasizes that the destruction of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, where around 300 Palestinians have been killed recently by Israeli soldiers or settlers, is “intrinsically linked to Israel’s actions in Gaza” and provides context for its violations.
An extermination program
South Africa’s claim provides 30 pages of documents on ongoing “genocidal acts” committed against the Palestinian people” in Gaza since the beginning of October.
It notes that Israel is “deliberately imposing telecommunications blackouts” and restricting investigative agencies and global media.
The 100 paragraphs of evidence describe aspects of the genocide: mass killings, causing serious damage and inflicting destructive conditions, mass expulsions and displacements, deprivation of food, water, medical supplies and shelter, as well as destruction of Gaza’s way of life and prevention of births.
Submitted on December 29, the document indicated that more than 21,000 Palestinians had been killed, with nearly 8,000 others missing, presumed dead. Victims were killed in homes, in places of shelter, such as hospitals, UN schools, churches and mosques, and while searching for food.
“They were killed if they failed to evacuate, in the locations to which they had fled, and even as they attempted to flee along Israel’s declared ‘safe routes,'” the document said. He adds that “reports of Israeli soldiers carrying out summary executions are increasing.”
More than 55,000 people have been injured, most hospitals have been destroyed and those that are still functioning are not equipped with medical equipment. Israel has systematically dehumanized Palestinians through acts of arrest, kidnapping, forced stripping and humiliation.
By the first week of January, 1.9 million Gazans had been expelled from their homes. Israel had fired on those using designated escape routes. On October 9, Tel Aviv cut off access to water, food, electricity and fuel in the strip. Although this situation has since eased slightly, the region is on the verge of famine.
Other accusations relate to the “attack on Gaza’s health system”, including killing healthcare workersthe destruction of infrastructure and foundations of life and the killing of children and mothers, as well as the lack of adequate childbirth conditions for future generations.
The 84-page report then turns to the expression of “significant and manifest” genocidal intent on the part of Israeli state officials, documented over 24 pages.
Eleven examples of high-ranking political figures making such remarks are presented, along with seven examples of military officials doing the same.
The first examples are given by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and, in particular, his description of the conflict as “a struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle” which, notes the report, has become a “dehumanizing theme.”
Other prominent politicians South Africa considers to have made genocidal remarks include President Isaac Herzog, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, Energy Minister Israel Katz and Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu.
Military personnel have also publicly stated that they were participating in a mass massacre: Israeli Major General Ghassan Alian calling Palestinians “human animal(s)” and IDF Major General Giora Eiland reportedly said that the people of Gaza must either leave the Gaza Strip for good or starve to death.
The report then lists eight examples of UN agencies or officials recognizing Israel’s genocidal intent.
He then describes how Israel violated the convention: this includes failing to prevent the genocide under the Article 1 of the Genocide Convention and committing, conspiring, attempting to commit, publicly inciting genocide, and being complicit in genocide are listed, all of which violate Article III.
Other violations include failing to punish genocide, failing to adopt national laws reflecting the provisions of the convention, as well as obstructing investigations into the matter.
End the genocide
“In light of the nature of the rights in question, as well as the continuing, extreme and irreparable harm suffered by Palestinians in Gaza, South Africa requests that the court deal with this request as a matter of urgency,” Africa said from South.
While the aim of the request is to permanently end the genocide, there is a request for an interim measure: this means that if the ICJ finds that the details of the report do in fact constitute genocide, it could then issue Israel with an injunction. temporary ban.
The ICJ could insist that Israel end its genocide before a formal investigation is opened, in order to protect lives.
The ICJ, created in 1921, could be a path to ending the hot war in Gaza. The International Criminal Court also deals with the crime of genocide but, as American human rights lawyer Francis Boyle has pointed out explain According to Sydney criminal lawyers, this tends to favor the need of its financiers and masters – the United States and NATO.
“The State of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice in The Hague to dispel the absurd blood libel of South Africa,” the Israeli spokesperson said. Eylon Lévy » said during an online press briefing on January 2. “We assure South African leaders that history will judge you, and it will judge you mercilessly. »
American political scientist and activist Norman Finkelstein said that while the merits of the case are “plausible”, The ICJ is made up of 15 judges representing various nations and that they will ultimately decide whether to issue an interim cease and desist order.
Finkelstein, a Gaza expert, does not believe an interim order will be adopted by the majority of the 15 states with a judicial officer sitting on the court.
“America forgets; desperate cause. Russia is unlikely. Slovakia, maybe a yes. France 50-50. Morocco, I would say yes. Somalia will probably answer yes,” Finkelstein predicted. “China should probably no or abstain. Uganda is no. India, since Modi is committing genocide against Muslims, I would say no.
“Jamaica maybe a yes. Lebanon a yes. Japan is so afraid of the United States that I would say no. Germany, I would say no. Australia, no, no, no, no, no,” Finkelstein said. “Brazil, definitely yes.”
Finkelstein suggested that six ICJ judges would vote in favor of an order to stop the massacre in Gaza, and perhaps in France. But for the court to decide that a temporary halt is warranted, eight judges must be convinced.
However, according to the ICJ, “once elected, a member of the Court is a delegate neither from the government of one’s own country nor from that of another state. Unlike most other organs of international organizations, the Court is not composed of government representatives. »
The fact that the ICJ’s highly respected and qualified judges will operate independently of the influence of their governments gives hope for a successful outcome of the court. Australian Representative Hilary Charlesworth is known as a progressive judicial officer.
Of course, Israel, although a signatory to the 1948 Genocide Convention, subjecting it to its jurisdiction, cannot follow this order: it has disregarded international law for decades.
This is another reason why the global ceasefire movement in the streets remains more important than ever.