UN top court to hear genocide case against Israel next week

AFP , Wednesday 3 Jan 2024

The UN's top court will hear submissions next week from South Africa and Israel after Pretoria opened a case for what it called Israel's "genocidal" acts in Gaza.

The exterior view of the International Criminal Court are pictured in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednes
The exterior view of the International Criminal Court are pictured in The Hague, Netherlands, Wednesday, March 31, 2021. AP


South Africa wants to International Court of Justice to urgently order Israel to suspend its military operations in Gaza, in a case which Israel rejected "with disgust."

The ICJ "will hold public hearings at the Peace Palace in The Hague... in proceedings instituted by South Africa against Israel," on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 January, the court said in a statement.

The South African application, filed last Friday, related to alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Genocide Convention, saying that "Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza."

Israel rejected the charge, with Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat writing on X, formerly Twitter: "Israel rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa and its application" to the ICJ.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added Israel displayed "unparalleled morality" in the Israeli war on Gaza as he too dismissed South Africa's charge.

South Africa, amongst other urgent measures, is asking the court to order that "Israel shall immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza" and that both countries "take all reasonable measures within their power to prevent genocide."

Israel launched a military campaign against on Gaza Strip after an operation called Al-Aqsa Flood on southern Israel on 7 October which left about 1,140 people dead, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Israel's ongoing Gaza offensive has killed more than 22,300 people, two-thirds of them women and children, according to the health ministry in Gaza.

South Africa will present its arguments on Thursday of next week, while Israel is set to counter on Friday.

A ruling by the ICJ on the request for emergency measures is expected to follow within weeks, but the case proper could still take months, or even years.

Set up after World War II, the ICJ is the UN's highest legal body and rules in disputes between countries.

Decisions are legally binding, but the court has little power to enforce them.

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