Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

South Africa initiated legal proceedings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday, accusing Israel of committing “genocidal” acts in Gaza. The ICJ application alleges Israel’s violations of the Genocide Convention and claims that the country is actively engaging in, and potentially escalating, genocidal actions against the Palestinian population in Gaza.

In response, Israel categorically rejected the charges, with the foreign ministry spokesperson, Lior Haiat, expressing Israel’s strong disapproval, stating, “Israel rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa and its application to the ICJ.”

The conflict, sparked by violent attacks from Hamas, has entered its twelfth week, leaving extensive destruction in northern Gaza. Israeli air strikes and ground combat have concentrated efforts on central and southern districts. Since the initiation of hostilities on October 7, the death toll has risen significantly, with approximately 1,140 casualties, primarily civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

South Africa’s filing with the ICJ seeks protection against “further, severe, and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people.” The country, historically supportive of the Palestinian cause, emphasizes the need to address the situation in Gaza and calls for international intervention.

The ICJ, responsible for adjudicating disputes between states, holds final authority in its decisions. However, enforcement mechanisms are absent. The court can issue emergency measures pending the full resolution of cases, a process that may extend over several years.

South Africa’s strong stance aligns with its historical support for the Palestinian cause, drawing parallels with its own struggle against apartheid. In response to Israel’s actions, South Africa has recalled all diplomats from the country, prompting Israel to reciprocate by recalling its ambassador from South Africa.

This development follows a previous call in November by five countries, including South Africa, urging an International Criminal Court investigation into the Israel-Hamas war. The International Criminal Court chief prosecutor, Karim Khan, disclosed that South Africa, along with Bangladesh, Bolivia, Comoros, and Djibouti, had requested an investigation into “the situation in the state of Palestine.”

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