Here’s What You Need To Know About South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel


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We have now surpassed the 100-day mark since members of Hamas attacked Israelis and a counterattack has killed thousands of Palestinians at an unprecedented scale. Since millions of Palestinians now struggle to find water, food, and shelter, South Africa took decisive legal action.

To recap, here’s a quick rundown:

Who: South Africa and Israel

What: Legal case attempting “to order Israel to ‘immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.’”

Where: The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the top court of the United Nations, which is based in The Hague

When: Last week, there was a two-day hearing, however “the case itself…will probably take years. But an interim decision to order Israel to cease its military campaign in Gaza immediately could be just weeks away.”

Why: Is the current situation in Gaza “the deliberate destruction of a people. In other words, is it genocide?”

South Africa submitted evidence that Israel’s “acts and omissions…are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”

As South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said, “Our opposition to the ongoing slaughter of the people of Gaza has driven us as a country to approach the ICJ.”

“As a people who once tasted the bitter fruits of dispossession, discrimination, racism and state-sponsored violence, we are clear that we will stand on the right side of history,” the President added.

As Oxfam reported last week, “Israel’s military is killing Palestinians at an average rate of 250 people a day which exceeds the daily death toll of any other major conflict of recent years,” with reports of the country attacking hospitals, refugee camps, and killing mostly women and children.

Since this case was brought to the ICJ, as opposed to the International Criminal Court (ICC), no one is eligible for prosecution; however, “its opinions [do] carry weight with the UN and other international institutions.”

This case has garnered global attention, and as The Guardian reports on “the symbolism of…a major African power holding to account one of the west’s closest allies.”

Israel has staunchly rejected these claims. But South Africa’s case against Israel has received “global support” per the country’s Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana.

Thus far, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Jordan, Malaysia, Pakistan, and Turkey are states that have publicly come out in support of “South Africa’s application, along with the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.”

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Godongwana said, “South Africa has not done anything unusual by going to an institution which has been established by the United Nations for dispute settlement between nations, and we’re following rule of law and legal principles in this regard.”

“Supporters of Israel of course, including the U.K., will say our application is nonsense but there is global support for our view that in fact, our case was substantive and we have argued our case,” continued Godongwana.


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