The International Court of Justice opened the hearing of the genocide case brought by the Republic of South Africa against Israel for its war on Gaza.
The team of South African legal experts and academics, led by John Dugard, professor of International Law and former United Nations (UN) rapporteur on human rights, took the floor on Thursday, January 11, to present the allegations against the Zionist regime’s ongoing genocide against Palestinians.
South Africa accused Tel Aviv of systematic pattern of genocidal behavior in Gaza, manifested through mass killings, with more than 30,000 fatalities inluding murdered and missing, 70% of whom were women and children; forced displacement of 85% of the Gazan population (1.9 million); and serious physical and mental harm to civilians.
Advocate Adila Hassim who opened the arguments said, “South Africa contends that Israel has transgressed Article II of the Genocide Convention, by committing actions that fall within the definition of acts of genocide. The actions show a systematic pattern of conduct from which genocide can be inferred.”
She continued that Palestinians in Gaza “are also at 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. This conduct renders essentials to life unobtainable.”
The South African legal team referred to the cruel and inhumane treatment inflicted on civilians, including children, who were detained, blindfolded and forced to undress before being abducted and taken to unknown locations. They also noted the seriousness of Tel Aviv’s failure to live up to its security “promises” as it repeatedly forced thousands of civilians to move to areas it called safe and then deliberately bombed them.
The experts exhibited that “genocidal intent” was reflected in public statements by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog, and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, as well as other senior Israeli officials.
Advocate Tembeka Ngcukaitobi stressed that the distinctive feature of this case is repeated verbalization of genocidal intent by the highest officials of the Israeli government and military. “Any suggestion that Israeli officials did not mean what they said.. should be rejected by this court,” he said.
Tembeka Ngcukaitobi says the distinctive feature of this case is repeated verbalization of genocidal intent by the highest officials of Israel's government and military. "Any suggestion that Israeli officials did not mean what they said.. should be rejected by this court." #ICJ pic.twitter.com/081hZVQjHG
— DAWN MENA (@DAWNmenaorg) January 11, 2024
The experts further explained that Israeli government officials have consciously participated in the practice of defining Palestinians as a second-class people and thereby normalizing their massacre, which shows that the philosophy of deliberate extermination of the Palestinian people has been incorporated into Israeli state policy.
“Genocides are never declared in advance, but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies a plausible claim of genocidal acts,” Advocate Hassim stated.
"First genocide act, committed by Israel is the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza, in violation of Article 2A of the Genocide Convention"
Adila Hassim, one of South Africa's lawyers at the ICJ genocide case against Israel, presents her arguments pic.twitter.com/S6KZkHSgF9
— Anadolu English (@anadoluagency) January 11, 2024
“Nothing will stop this suffering, except an Order from this Court,” she concluded. “Without an indication of provisional measures, the atrocities will continue; with the Israeli Defence Force indicating that it intends pursuing this course of action for at least a year.”
The South African legal team charged “Israel” with violating the 1948 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide. “We are witnessing a Nakba in Palestine today that surpasses the Nakba of 1948,” they said.
South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola emphasized that “Israel” has banned civilians from entering and leaving the Gaza Strip, has maintained its blockade against the enclave since 2006, and continues to block basic supplies from reaching the territory.
Advocate and Law Professor Max Du Plessis raised the Palestinian people’s right to exist, asserting that “Palestinians in Gaza—as a very substantial and important part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group—simply but profoundly are entitled to exist.”
He added that what is happening in Gaza now is not correctly framed as a simple conflict between two parties. “It entails, instead, destructive acts perpetrated by an occupying power, Israel, that has subjected the Palestinian people to an oppressive and prolonged violation of their rights to self-determination for 76 years,” he pointed out.
Du Plessis said that South Africa has turned to the ICJ “seeking to protect the core rights of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide, attempted genocide, direct and public incitement to genocide, and complicity in and conspiracy to commit genocide.”
Irish lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, representing South Africa at the ICJ, said there is an urgent need for provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza from the irreparable prejudice caused by Israel’s violations of the Genocide Convention.
She added that it is “the first genocide in history where its victims are broadcasting their own destruction in real time in the desperate—so far vain—hope that the world might do something.”
“Gaza represents nothing short of a ‘moral failure,’ as described by the usually circumspect International Committee of the Red Cross,” she said.
As an immediate step, South Africa urged the ICJ to grant provisional measures to put a stop to the ongoing genocide in Gaza. British lawyer, Professor Vaughan Lowe, pointed out that the Court does not, at this stage, have to determine whether Israel has acted contrary to its obligations under the Genocide Convention.
“It is concerned now only with the question of what provisional measures are required pending its final decision,” Lowe said.
As a provisional measure, Lowe requested an order from the Court for the “immediate suspension” of Israel’s military operations in and against Gaza.
“It is no use Israel saying that it does whatever it can to minimize the deaths of innocent men, women and children,” he stressed. “The use of 2000 pound bunker-busting bombs and dumb bombs in residential areas, and the relentless bombardment of Gaza, and even of so-called ‘safe areas’ to which Palestinians have been directed by Israel, tell another story.”
“Nothing can ever justify genocide,” Lowe continued. “No matter what some individuals within the group of Palestinians in Gaza may have done, and no matter how great the threat to Israeli citizens might be, genocidal attacks on the whole of Gaza and the whole of its population with the intent of destroying them cannot be justified.”
Vusi Madonsela, ambassador of South Africa to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, concluded South Africa’s submission by outlining the provisional measures requested: the immediate suspension of Israel’s military operations in and against Gaza; that any military or irregular armed units take no steps in furthering the military operations referred to before; both South Africa and Israel to take reasonable measures within their power to prevent genocide; and that Israel be requested to submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this order within one week, as from date of this order, and thereafter at such regular intervals as the Court shall order, until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court, and that such reports shall be published by the Court.
As the South African side’s pleadings session proceeded, thousands of people gathered outside the ICJ in freezing temperatures to support the South African case, to demand an end to Israeli war crimes in Gaza and West Bank, and to bring Netanyahu to justice.
The “Israeli” side will present its pleadings on Friday, January 12.
Hamas thanks South Africa for invoking Genocide Convention against Israel
The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas expressed gratitude towards South Africa for the latter’s legal proceedings against the Israeli regime for its ongoing genocidal war against the Gaza Strip.
On Thursday January 11, Izzat al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’ Political Bureau, remarked that “South Africa has proved the authenticity of its principled position of support for the Palestinian nation.”
The full statement is provided below:
We highly value and appreciate the plea made by the legal team of the State of South Africa at the International Court of Justice today in The Hague, and the arguments, evidence and documented evidence it contained, proving before the entire world the involvement of the Zionist occupation in committing crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing of our people in the Gaza Strip.
The State of South Africa once again proves the authenticity of its principled position in support of our Palestinian people and the justice of their cause, and its rejection of the brutal crimes of the occupation against our people and their legitimate national rights. We consider this historic plea that the world witnessed today to be a valid and reliable reason, from a state consistent with its principles and the principles of international law, to stop the occupation’s aggression. Our people, children and defenseless civilians in the Gaza Strip, and then begin prosecuting the occupation for the crimes of genocide it is committing against our Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.
(Alba Ciudad) with Orinoco Tribune content
Translation: Orinoco Tribune