South Africa's Case Against Israel
The hearing began with South Africa outlining its case and demanding an immediate suspension of Israel's military operations in Gaza. Vusimuzi Madonsela, Pretoria's ambassador to the Netherlands, highlighted that more than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since the October 7 attacks.
Accusations of Genocidal Acts
Ronald Lamola, South Africa’s justice minister, argued that Israel's response to Hamas attacks crossed a line, amounting to genocidal acts. Lamola sees the case as an opportunity for the ICJ to prevent ongoing genocide in Gaza by issuing an injunction.
Genocidal Acts Listed by South Africa
Adila Hassim, an advocate representing South Africa’s case, listed what she deemed as a series of violations of the Genocide Convention by Israel. The listed "genocidal acts" included mass killings, serious bodily or mental harm, and declarations of genocidal intent by Israeli political leaders.
Question of Jurisdiction
The hearing addressed the question of jurisdiction, with South African legal representatives clarifying that the court does not have to determine Israel's actions at this stage. Israel is expected to present its oral arguments today, the second day of the hearing.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded, calling the accusations hypocrisy and lies. The United States has dismissed the allegations, seeing no basis for South Africa’s claim of genocide against Israel.
In a late late press release following South Africa’s arguments, the Israeli foreign ministry accused South Africa of being the “legal arm of Hamas” with Israeli foreign minister, Lior Haiat stating “today we witnessed one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history, compounded by a series of false and baseless claims.”
Potential Global Ramifications
While the ICJ's rulings may not directly impact the ongoing conflict, a decision in favour of South Africa could exert significant pressure on Israel, given the country's strong backing from the United States.
The hearing resumes on Friday.
Follow IOL’s blow-by-blow coverage of day one of the hearing here.