“No attack on the territory of a State, however serious, can justify the violation of the Genocide Convention.” «It is Hamas that attempted a genocide against Israel. South Africa is acting as the legal arm of terrorists.”
The back-and-forth between South African and Israeli representatives began before the International Court of Justice in The Hague on the application presented by Pretoria accusing the Jewish state of committing genocide against the Palestinians of Gaza in the war, which broke out on 7 October , which razed a large part of the Strip to the ground, causing, according to the toll provided by Hamas, over 23 thousand deaths. The first of two public hearings at the Palais de la Paix centered on South African arguments that Israel violates with “specific intent” its obligations under the Genocide Convention that both countries have ratified.
The Israeli raids aim “to destroy the lives of Palestinians” and push them “to the brink of famine”, explained Adila Hassim, a lawyer from South Africa, before the 15 judges of the Court (plus the two ad hoc ones appointed by both countries). . “Genocides are never declared in advance, but this Court can rely on the last 13 weeks of evidence that demonstrates, beyond dispute, a pattern of behavior and intent that supports a plausible allegation of acts of genocide,” it said. his speech. “The evidence of genocidal intent is not only chilling, but overwhelming and incontrovertible,” echoed another lawyer, the South African Tembeka Ngcukaitobi.
Israel’s representatives will respond point by point tomorrow in the same chamber. But in the meantime the case has unleashed the wrath of the Jewish state which claims the right to defend itself and destroy Hamas.
«In The Hague we witness the world turned upside down. Israel fights against murderous terrorists who have committed terrible crimes against humanity: they massacred, raped, burned, dismembered, killed children, women, the elderly, young people. A terrorist organization that committed the most terrible crime against the Jewish people since the Shoah and now there are those who come to defend it in the name of the Shoah. How audacious”, thundered Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing South Africa of “hypocrisy”.
“It is the Dreyfus affair of the 21st century, a spectacle of anti-Semitism and shame,” insisted former prime minister Naftali Bennettreferring to the case of the unjustly convicted Jewish captain who divided France at the end of the 19th century. “False and unfounded” accusations, the Foreign Ministry reiterated, accusing South Africa of being “the legal arm of Hamas”.
«We do not present any petition in the name of Hamas, this statement is baseless. We do it in the name of the Palestinians, the children, women and elderly people killed in Gaza.”, replied the South African Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, speaking to journalists outside the courtroom. However, Hamas thanked Pretoria for the “historic” initiative: «The evidence presented – declared Izzat Al-Rishq of the political office of the Palestinian faction – demonstrates to the whole world the crimes of genocide and ethnic cleansing committed against our people by ‘Zionist occupation’. Various countries, mostly Muslim and South American, as well as the Arab League and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation have lined up in support of the South African cause. Calling Israel “an apartheid regime”, Iran accuses the Jewish state of “crimes against humanity”, while praising the South African move as “courageous” and “honourable”.
Alongside Israel, the United States considers the accusations “unfounded” and Great Britain considers the case “useless and unjust”. For Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani, “there is an attack that affects the civilian population” but “genocide is something else”. Demonstrations for and against the accusation were held in the morning – not without tension – in front of the Court headquarters. After Israel’s response, the judges could express their opinion within a few weeks on the urgent “precautionary measures” requested by South Africa to put an end to the killing of civilians. Although its decisions are legally binding, the Court has no power to enforce them. If so, Israel could ignore them, opening the door to possible sanctions. A decision on the merits, however, whether or not the Jewish state committed genocide, could take years.