Palestinian authority apply to join South Africa's case at top UN court accusing Israel of genocide

AP , Monday 3 Jun 2024

Palestinian authority have applied at the top UN court for permission to join South Africa's case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

Palestinians carry the body of a man killed in an Israeli strike, ahead of the funeral at the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Hospital in Deir al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on June 2, 2024. AFP


The request published Monday alleges that Israel's ongoing military operation is “part of a systematic effort to wipe Palestinian society and its culture and social institutions from the map.” The request to the International Court of Justice was made on behalf of the “State of Palestine” and signed by Palestinian Authority foreign ministry official Ammar Hijazi.

South Africa filed its case with the world court late last year accusing Israel of breaching the genocide convention in its military assault that has laid waste to large swaths of Gaza. 

Israel is expanding its offensive in the southern city of Rafah, once the main hub of humanitarian aid operations. The Israeli invasion has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine, and other supplies to Palestinians facing widespread hunger.

Israeli bombardments and ground operations in Gaza have killed more than 36,479 Palestinians, 70% women and children, with another 82,777 wounded, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

The court has issued three preliminary orders in the case calling on Israel to do all it can to prevent deaths in the enclave, ramp up humanitarian aid, and, most recently, halt its offensive in Rafah.

It is unclear how long the court's judges will take to rule on the request. If granted, Palestinian officials will be able to address the court in writing and during public hearings.

In their request, the Palestinians said they are directly affected by South Africa's case against Israel.

“The Israeli onslaught has obliterated and damaged, beyond recognition, Gaza’s hospitals, mosques, churches, universities, schools, homes, shops, and infrastructure, as part of a systematic effort to wipe Palestinian society and its culture and social institutions from the map,” the request says.

The request adds that Israel is violating the court’s orders and continuing with “its genocidal acts including deliberately and systematically impeding humanitarian aid, resulting in an intentionally engineered situation of starvation and a creeping famine that is increasingly imminent.”

The Palestinians have been to the court before. In 2018, The Palestinian Authority filed a case asking its judges to order Washington to remove the relocated US embassy from Jerusalem.

The case followed the decision of the administration of then-US President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv.

That case remains before the court, where cases can take years to resolve.

The International Court of Justice rules in cases between states. The United Nations General Assembly voted last month to give Palestine some new rights and privileges, but it reaffirmed that it remains a non-member observer state without full UN membership and the right to vote in the General Assembly or at any of its conferences.

The United States has made clear that it will block Palestinian membership and statehood until direct negotiations with Israel resolve key issues, including security, boundaries, and the future of Jerusalem, and lead to a two-state solution.

* This story was edited by Ahram Online.

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