Israel genocide hearing begins in Hague
The UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague has begun hearing an application from South Africa accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians.
The submission calls on the court to order Israel to cease military operations in Gaza, according to British state broadcaster the BBC.
South Africa’s petition to the court described Israel’s actions in Gaza following the October 7 Hamas attack as “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”
The accusation has been vehemently rejected by Israel.
“Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed in a video statement ahead of the hearing.
On Tuesday, Israeli President Isaac Herzog also dismissed the genocide lawsuit brought against his country. “There is nothing more atrocious and preposterous” than a case filed with the ICJ by South Africa against the State of Israel, he said.
South Africa brought the case to the UN court on December 29. According to local Hamas-run authorities, Israel’s airstrikes and ground invasion have resulted in the deaths of more than 22,000 people in Gaza.
Netanyahu promised to “eliminate” Hamas following the Palestinian militant group’s cross-border attack. Casualties since then have been mostly women and children, local authorities have claimed.
During an emergency virtual BRICS+ meeting in November, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa criticized the Hamas incursion and charged the militant group with violating international law. He has also called for the ICC to investigate Israel for its actions in the conflict with Hamas.
Diplomatic relations between the African nation and Israel have been strained due to the Gaza conflict. Pretoria has historically been a strong supporter of the Palestinian struggle for sovereignty, liking it to South Africa’s struggle with apartheid.