Israel defends itself against genocide charges before the International Court of Justice

South Africa has filed a genocide lawsuit against Israel, and the second day of the case opened at the World Court in The Hague on Friday, January 12, when Israeli officials defended the country against the genocide charges.

On the second day of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, Israeli officials accused South Africa of distorting the facts and the legal reality of its war in Gaza when asking the judges to order Israel to immediately cease its military campaign, claiming it amounts to genocide.

On Thursday, the first day of the case, South Africa’s Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola told judges that no armed attack justifies Israel’s actions, which he said was the culmination of decades of oppression and occupation of Palestine going back to the formation of Israel in 1948.

Israeli legal advisor Tal Becker said that by accusing Israel of genocide, South Africa “has regrettably put before the court a profoundly distorted, factual and legal picture. The entirety of its case hinges on a deliberately curated, decontextualised and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities.”

Israel said South Africa sounded more like Hamas with its “rejectionist rhetoric” that delegitimised Israel’s 75 years as a state. They “erased Jewish history and Palestinian responsibility,” said Becker, “weaponised the word ‘genocide’ and emptied it of meaning.”

Israeli lawyers argued that If anyone is committing genocide, it is Hamas, whose leaders call time and again for the destruction of Israel and its Jewish population.

Israel noted that the country has the right to defend itself following the October 7 attacks, when they said Hamas committed “wholesale massacres, mutilations, rapes and abductions,” and 136 hostages are still being held in Gaza.

Israel also argued that its war follows international humanitarian law, and all its actions show it has no intention of wiping out Gaza’s Palestinians. The intention to destroy a people in part or whole based on their ethnicity, race, nationality, or religion is a prerequisite to proving genocide. While South Africa claims that deporting the population could constitute genocide, Israel said that warning the people to leave war-struck areas shows the opposite of genocidal intent, and it calls it a “temporary evacuation”, which serves the protection of civilians. Urban warfare is brutal, Israeli lawyers said, but Hamas is using Gazan homes, hospitals and other buildings to launch attacks and hide and therefore leave no other choice for Israel.

South Africa’s lawyers claimed that if the judges don’t order an immediate halt to the bombing, irreparable harm will be done before any case on the merits has a chance to be heard. Nevertheless, Israel asked judges to dismiss South Africa’s request. It said the court has no jurisdiction because Israel’s war falls under the rules of war and not the Genocide Convention. It argued that there is not the required emergency as they are scaling back their fighting in what they say is the new second phase of the war.

Moreover, Israel stressed that a court-ordered ceasefire would prevent Israel from its right to self-defence, turning the Geneva Convention into an “aggressor’s charter” as Hamas is free to continue its attacks.

A decision is expected in the next few weeks.

Original article: DutchNews

Photo credit: NVVN