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1445 ذو الحجة 10 | 17 يونيو 2024

Israel’s Moment of Reckoning: South Africa’s Bold Stand at the ICJ

Israel's Moment of Reckoning: South Africa's Bold Stand at the ICJ
Sabah Al-Mukhtar 10 January 2024

Wake Up, O Arabs, O Muslims, People, and Rulers!

It is time to rouse from your sleep and take heed of the recent developments unfolding on the international stage.

In recent months, Israel has faced little international accountability for its actions against the Palestinian people. However, on December 29, 2023, South Africa changed the landscape by submitting an 84-page application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.

وقف فوري لإطلاق النار

Dr. Marjorie Cohen, a prominent legal figure, notes that Israel is now deeply concerned about potential ICJ scrutiny over its actions. The South African submission asserts that Israel’s conduct towards Palestinians in Gaza violates the Genocide Convention, accusing it of taking a deliberate approach to destroy the Palestinians as a national, racial, and ethnic group.

To counter this, Israel has launched efforts to pressure the ICJ. On January 4, the Israeli Foreign Ministry instructed its embassies to lobby politicians and diplomats worldwide to oppose South Africa’s case at the ICJ.


South Africa’s legal basis for the genocide claim includes eight key allegations:

1. The killing of Palestinians in Gaza, with a significant proportion being women and children, and some appearing to be summarily executed.

2. Inflicting serious mental and physical harm, including mutilation, psychological trauma, and inhuman treatment on Palestinians in Gaza.

3. Forcing eviction and displacement of about 85% of Palestinians in Gaza, along with massive destruction of homes and infrastructure.

4. Causing hunger, famine, and drought by obstructing humanitarian aid and destroying essential facilities.

5. Failing to provide adequate clothing, shelter, hygiene, and sanitation to internally displaced Palestinians in Gaza.

6. Neglecting medical care by directly attacking healthcare facilities and personnel in Gaza.

7. Destroying Palestinian life in Gaza through widespread destruction of infrastructure and killing of prominent individuals.

8. Imposing measures to prevent Palestinian births in Gaza, including reproductive violence against women and children.

Israel and the United States React to South Africa’s ICJ Request

حشود أمام مكتب سوناك للمطالبة بوقف إطلاق النار في غزة

Israel, along with its ally, the United States, realizes the gravity of South Africa’s recent appeal to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and is notably displeased.

While Israel typically mocks international institutions, it is taking the South African case seriously. In 2021, when the International Criminal Court initiated an inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by Israel in Gaza, the country vehemently rejected the investigation’s legitimacy.

Professor Eliav Lieblich, an international law expert at Tel Aviv University, explained that Israel usually avoids participating in such measures. However, he noted the significance of South Africa’s case, as the ICJ operates under a treaty to which Israel is a party, rendering it unable to dismiss the court’s authority as it has done with other international bodies.

A January 4 telegram from the Israeli Foreign Ministry outlined Israel’s “strategic goal” regarding the ICJ case. It aims for the court to reject South Africa’s request to suspend Israeli military actions in Gaza and to deny the allegation that Israel is committing genocide.

Israeli Diplomatic Maneuvers

الدعوة لمظاهرة عالمية كبرى انتصارًا لغزة في الـ13 من يناير

In response to the impending ICJ case, the Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a telegram emphasizing the potential global ramifications of the court’s ruling. The communication urges countries to release immediate statements rejecting what Israel deems as unfounded accusations.

Israeli embassies are instructed to engage high-ranking diplomats and politicians globally, encouraging them to publicly recognize Israel’s efforts to increase humanitarian aid to Gaza. The emphasis lies on portraying Israel’s actions as acts of self-defense, particularly in response to an October 7 attack labeled as terrorism and genocide by a terrorist organization.

Prime Minister’s Spokesperson Responds

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s spokesperson, Elon Levy, dismisses South Africa’s claim as ridiculous and lacking legal basis. Levy accuses South Africa of spreading specious accusations, including employing the term “blood libel,” an anti-Semitic trope wrongly accusing Jews of ritually sacrificing Christian children. Levy sarcastically criticizes South Africa, a nation proud of its anti-racism stance, for seemingly supporting what he characterizes as anti-Jewish racists.

In an unexpected turn, Levy asserts that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza aims to prevent the genocide of Jews. This assertion is met with criticism for its perceived detachment from the complex realities on the ground.

U.S. Support and International Backing

وقف إطلاق النار في غزة

The Biden administration swiftly comes to Israel’s defense, with John Kirby, spokesman for the US National Security Council, denouncing South Africa’s request as worthless and counterproductive. Kirby echoes Israel’s stance that it is not seeking to eliminate the Palestinian people or Gaza but is defending itself against a perceived terrorist threat of genocide.

South Africa, eager for swift action, petitions the ICJ for provisional measures to safeguard the rights of Palestinians under the Genocide Convention. These measures include suspending Israel’s military operations, halting actions causing harm to Palestinians, and ensuring compliance with the Genocide Convention.

South Africa’s case receives international support, with backing from Jordan, Turkey, Malaysia, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. The International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine, endorsed by over 600 groups worldwide, encourages States Parties to the Genocide Convention to support South Africa’s efforts, anticipating a positive outcome for justice and accountability at the United Nations.


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