South Africa’s Adila Hassim SC, who was the first lawyer to address the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday in the groundbreaking case against Israel, told the court how Israel’s attack on the Palestinian people in Gaza was “deliberately calculated”.
In a historic move, South Africa launched a case last month at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel for what it said were "genocidal" acts in Gaza, seeking an emergency suspension of its military campaign.
As she stood before the ICJ, Hassim announced that 23,210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces to date. At least 70% were believed to be women and children. Some 7,000 Palestinians were still missing, presumed dead under the rubble.
Addressing the court about the genocidal acts that have led to this case, Hassim said the only two entry and exit points by either air or sea to Gaza was prohibited, with Israel operating the points.
"For the past 96 days, Israel has subjected Gaza to what has been described as one of the heaviest conventional bombing campaigns in the history of modern warfare. Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israeli weaponry and bombs from air, land and sea.
“They are also at immediate risk of death by starvation, dehydration and disease as a result of the ongoing siege of Israel, destruction of Palestinian towns, the insufficient aid being allowed through to the Palestinian population and the possibility of distributing this limited aid while bombs fall,” she said.
At this stage of the case against Israel before the ICJ, Hassim said it was not necessary for the court to come to a final view of the question on whether Israel's conduct constituted genocide.
Hassim said it was only necessary to decide whether “at least some” of the acts alleged were capable of falling within the provisions of the Genocide Convention.
The first genocidal act committed by Israel, Hassim said, was the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza.
“The level of Israel's killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe.”
In addressing the court, Hassim was stern and articulate in displaying the impact of Israel's attack on Palestinian lives in Gaza.
"In the first three weeks alone, following 7 October, Israel deployed 6,000 bombs per week. At least 200 times, it deployed 2,000-pound bombs in southern areas of Palestine designated as safe. Two thousand-pound bombs are some of the biggest and most lethal.
“Israel has killed an unparalleled and unprecedented amount of civilians. More than 1,800 families in Gaza have lost multiple members of their family and hundreds of generations of families have been wiped out. This killing is nothing short of destruction of Palestinian life. No one is spared, not even newborn babies."
In addition, Hassim said Israel had deliberately imposed conditions on Gaza that could not sustain life.
She said Israel had achieved this firstly by displacement.
Israel's first evacuation order on October 13 required the evacuation of about 13 million people. Entire hospitals were required to evacuate, including newborn babies in intensive care. The order itself was genocidal, Hassim said.
“There is nowhere safe for them to flee to. Those who refuse to be displaced have been killed.
“It required immediate movement, taking only what could be carried, while no humanitarian assistance was permitted and fuel, water and food and other necessities of life were deliberately cut off,” she said.
Follow IOL’s live coverage of the hearings at The Hague here.