Case against Israel will test ICJ’s credibility

The South African government has taken the decisive step to bring Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over alleged acts of genocide in its conflict with Palestine in Gaza. Picture: Official account of the International Court of Justice/X

The South African government has taken the decisive step to bring Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over alleged acts of genocide in its conflict with Palestine in Gaza. Picture: Official account of the International Court of Justice/X

Published Jan 9, 2024


Basil Brown

The government of South Africa is to be commended for instituting proceedings against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to request an interim measure preventing the illegal Zionist settler state from continuing its genocidal war against the people of Gaza.

On December 29, 2023, South Africa boldly approached the ICJ with a meticulously prepared case and will be backing this by sending a legal “A-team” to argue its case at The Hague on Thursday and Friday.

Hardly two-weeks following October 7, it was clear to Israeli Holocaust scholar, expert Raz Segal, that Israel’s assault on Gaza amounted to a “Textbook Case of Genocide”.

SA’s 84-page document supporting its case produces substantial evidence in several categories, including the sheer scale of the killings of the citizens of Gaza (in excess of 22 000, 70% of whom were defenceless women and children); the mass arbitrary arrest and inhuman treatment (including torture and humiliation) of civilians, including children; the dropping of thousands of tons of bombs on residential and other infrastructure such as schools and hospitals, making vast areas of the Gaza Strip uninhabitable; denial and prevention of access to food, water, fuel and medical necessities, causing starvation, illness and death to thousands of Gazans; and the open statements of genocidal intent on the part of the Israeli leaders.

For example, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu compared the mission of the Zionists to the biblical story of the destruction of Amalek; and Israeli President Isaac Herzog justified the destruction of Gaza because, in his words, “an entire nation is responsible” for October 7, and should therefore face the wrath of Zionist retribution.

There was also the Nazi-like statement by the Israeli defence minister that the fight was against “human animals”.

The unqualified and unwavering support for Israel’s campaign of mass slaughter by the Biden administration is a clear indication that Israel is fighting a proxy-war, specifically to advance American (and more generally, Western) imperialist interests in the region.

Moreover, the paralysis shown by most governments, including those neighbouring Gaza, demonstrates American domination. While there has been overwhelming support for UN resolutions against Israel’s aggression, at the time of writing, the countries that have come out in open support of SA’s application to the ICJ include Malaysia and Türkiye as well as 55 other member countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

By contrast, millions of citizens, including people’s organisations such as trade unions, religious groups and NGOs in towns and cities across the globe, have shown their opposition to the genocidal barbarism of Israel, by taking to the streets in their numbers. As a sub-text to the unfolding crisis, this indicates that a significant gulf exists between rulers and ruled in many so-called democratic countries.

The Unity Movement adds its voice to the calls for solidarity with the people of Gaza, and for actions to bring the genocidal war to an abrupt halt.

This means that nothing less than a permanent ceasefire is demanded. We support initiatives by the BDS Movement to boycott business firms and individuals who openly support Israel and Zionism. We call upon the SA government to go further in its aim to stop the war, by immediately severing diplomatic, trade, educational, sporting and cultural relations with Israel as a matter of principle, and to prosecute SA citizens who are enlisted in the Israeli army.

SA’s case will be a crucial test of the ICJ’s credibility. Will it show the necessary courage and independence to rule against Israel (and, in effect, against America)? More importantly, will the Israeli government, which has thumbed its nose at all criticism, observe any ruling against it?

A permanent ceasefire is just the beginning. What will need to follow is the rebuilding of Gaza and the securing of Palestinian sovereignty. In the long-run, the only guarantee of lasting peace will be the creation of a single democratic state in which the rights of all citizens are respected and upheld.

We say: “Down with a two-state solution based on ethno-religious nationalism which secures Israeli domination and the bantustanning of Palestine.” We applaud the heroic people of Gaza, who continue to endure unspeakable crimes against them.

Along with all freedom-loving people of the world, we reiterate our solidarity and support for Gaza and the rest of Palestine.

Brown is New Unity Movement President

Cape Times