UN International Court of Justice hears Arguments from South Africa that Israel is Committing Genocide

South Africa brings charges against Israel of Genocide toward Palestinians; US Secretary of State Blinken states the charges are meritless.

NPR reports the following: “A hearing on Friday concluded two-days of arguments in a case brought by South Africa, a longtime critic of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, against Israel for the alleged crime of genocide against Palestinians. The case is being heard before the United Nations’ International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. The court’s 15 judges were joined by one judge each from South Africa and Israel.

The Guardian noted that in arguments presented by each side Thursday and Friday, information was left out which contradicted the positions of each side, as would be expected. The South African case is a strong one, however, though a verdict could take years to be decided. It is noted that Genocide is a different charge than that of being tried for War Crimes or Ethnic Cleansing according to the BBC.

“Genocide, as defined in a widely ratified treaty, has essentially two elements. First, an offender must commit certain acts against a targeted group such as “killing” or “deliberately inflicting … conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or part”. Second, these acts must be committed with genocidal intent, meaning an “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such”. Both parts of the crime were deeply contested by the lawyers in The Hague.”

NPR: In nearly three hours of testimony, lawyers and experts on behalf of South Africa presented evidence arguing that Israel’s three-month-long military campaign in Gaza has gone beyond a war with Hamas — the Palestinian militant group that attacked Israel on Oct. 7, killing 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages, according to Israel. The South African legal team argued Israel’s offensive now includes all 2 million Palestinians who reside in Gaza.

“The level of Israel’s killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe in Gaza,” South African lawyer Adila Hassim said to the court. “As I stand before you today, 23,210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during the sustained attacks over the last three months,” said Hassim, “at least 70% of whom are believed to be women and children. . . . Hassim said the Israeli military dropped 6,000 bombs a week on Gaza in the first three weeks of its campaign and dropped 2,000-pound bombs onto areas declared safe by Israel, including refugee camps.

Pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian protesters gathered near the ICJ in the Hague to watch the proceedings

Netanyahu responded to by video alleging hypocrisy on the part of the South Africans a “The state of Israel is accused of genocide at a time when it is fighting genocide.” It was also noted as reported by the BBC that “South Africa, the Israelis said, is guilty of supporting Hamas, a group designated as a terrorist organization by 41 countries, including the US, EU and UK.”

In Israel’s opening arguments before the court on Friday, Israeli lawyer Tal Becker said Israel is “singularly aware” of why the Genocide Convention was adopted, referring to the systematic murder of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust, which gave birth to the convention invoked in these proceedings.”The applicant has now sought to invoke this term in the context of Israel’s conduct in a war it did not start and did not want,” Becker said, “a war in which Israel is defending itself against Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and other terrorist organizations whose brutality knows no bounds.”

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