Israel asserts that South Africa has distorted the truth in its presentation to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where Israel faces allegations of genocide. According to Israeli lawyer Tal Becker, South Africa provided a “sweeping counter-factual description” of the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
The ICJ, the highest court in the United Nations, theoretically issues legally binding rulings, although they are not enforceable.
Israel is presenting its defense a day after South Africa presented its case. Outside the ICJ, police have implemented cordons to separate rival groups.
Palestinian flags are waved on one side, referencing parallels between Gaza and South Africa’s apartheid era, while a symbolic Sabbath table nearby displays images of Israelis held by Hamas.
South Africa asserts that Israel violates the 1949 Genocide Convention, to which both states are signatories. This commitment obliges parties to prevent genocide.
Israel has been engaged in a conflict with Hamas since October 7, resulting in casualties and hostages.
Tal Becker argues that South Africa has presented a distorted picture, relying on a curated description of hostilities.
In response, South Africa claims Israel’s “genocidal intent,” stating a plan to “destroy” Gaza nurtured at the highest state level. Adila Hassim, representing South Africa, emphasizes mounting losses for Palestinians and seeks an order from the court to stop the suffering.
In its evidence submitted before the hearing, South Africa contends that Israel’s actions are “intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnical group.”
On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized South Africa for what he sees as hypocrisy.
A representative for UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak stated, Mr. Sunak believes South Africa’s case is “completely unjustified and wrong.”
The UK government supports Israel’s unequivocal right to self-defense within the bounds of international law.
The ICJ’s delivery on the genocide allegation will be an opinion, closely watched by many. A final ruling may take years, although the court could potentially rule quickly on South Africa’s request for Israel to suspend its military campaign.