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Gaza war: Ahead of ICJ hearing, South Africa "determined to see genocide end"

Gaza war: Ahead of ICJ hearing, South Africa "determined to see genocide end"
The logo of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), (L), and that of the U.N., (R), are seen on the judges bench at the ICJ, in The Hague on Oct. 12, 2023.   -  
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Peter Dejong/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved


On Thursday (Jan.11), lawyers for South Africa will seek to explain to judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) why the country accuses Israel of “acts and omissions" that are “genocidal in character” in the Gaza war.

South Africa's delegation to the Hague will be led by Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola and will also include senior figures from the office of President Cyril Ramaphosa and the Ministry of Justice, the Justice Ministry said in a statement.

“We are determined to see the end of the genocide that is currently taking place in Gaza," Lamola said.

South Africa's Justice Ministry said Corbyn was one of a number of “senior political figures from progressive political parties and movements across the globe” who will join the South African delegation at the Hague in the Netherlands for two days of preliminary hearings which begin on Thursday.

Corbyn was the only one of those foreign political figures in its delegation named by the South African government.

On Tuesday (Jan.09), the U.S. top diplomat who is on a Mid-East tour dismissed the case from Tel Aviv.

"We believe the submission against Israel to the International Court of Justice distracts the world from all of these important efforts (peace and security in the. region)," Antony Blinken said.

"Moreover, the charge of genocide is meritless. It's particularly galling given that those who are attacking Israel - Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis, as well as their supporter Iran - continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews."

Thursday’s opening hearing at the ICJ is focused on South Africa’s request for the court to impose binding interim orders including that Israel halt its deadly military campaign.

The filing by South Africa accuses Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention: "South Africa unequivocally condemns all violations of international law by all parties, including the direct targeting of Israeli civilians and other nationals and hostage-taking by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups," the application instituting proceedings by South Africa reads.

"No armed attack on a State’s territory no matter how serious — even an attack involving atrocity crimes —can, however, provide any possible justification for, or defence to, breaches of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (‘Genocide Convention’ or ‘Convention’), whether as a matter of law or morality," it continues.

The filing argues that genocidal acts include killing Palestinians, causing serious mental and bodily harm, and deliberately inflicting conditions meant tov "bring about their physical destruction as a group." 

 It also cites "repeated statements by Israeli State representatives, including at the highest levels, by the Israeli President, Prime Minister, and Minister of Defence express genocidal intent."

The ICJ ruled in 2007 that Serbia “violated the obligation to prevent genocide" in the July 1995 massacre by Bosnian Serb forces of over 8,000 Muslim men and boys.

The Israeli army has killed 23,357 Palestinians and wounded more than 59,000, according to an update Wednesday (Jan. 10) from the Health Ministry in Gaza. 

South Africa brought the case against Israel last month, accusing it of intending “to destroy Palestinians in Gaza,” and asked the U.N.'s top court to order Israel to halt its attacks.

Israel rejected South Africa's allegations of genocide “with disgust” and said it will defend itself at the court.

According to Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, genocide involves acts committed with the “intent to destroy, either in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”

Both South Africa and Israel, as UN member states, are bound by the ICJ's rulings.

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