Israel to respond to Gaza genocide charges before International Court of Justice

People sit inside the International Court of Justice in the Netherlands at a hearing hearing South Africa's request for emergency measures against Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza on Thursday. Photo: Thilo Shmolkin/Reuters. reuters_tickers

This content was published on January 12, 2024 – July 08:38,

THE HAGUE (Reuters) – Israel plans to respond on Friday to South Africa's accusations at the United Nations International Court of Justice that its military operation in the Gaza Strip is a genocidal campaign aimed at eliminating the Palestinian people. .

South Africa, which filed the suit in December, asked the court's judges on Thursday to impose emergency measures on Israel to immediately halt its attack.

He said the Israeli air and ground offensive, which destroyed large swaths of the narrow coastal strip and killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, was aimed at “depopulating” the Gaza Strip, according to Gaza health officials.

Israel rejects the genocide allegations, describing them as baseless, and says South Africa acts as a mouthpiece for Hamas, which it views as a terrorist organization seeking to destroy the Jewish state. The Israeli military said it was targeting Hamas militants, not Palestinian civilians.

Israel launched an extensive military campaign in the Gaza Strip after a cross-border attack by Hamas on October 7, which Israeli officials said killed 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and took 240 hostages in the area.

The 1948 Genocide Convention, passed after the mass killing of Jews in the Nazi Holocaust, defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, racial, ethnic or religious group”.

Almost all of the Gaza Strip's 2.3 million residents have been forced to flee their homes at least once since Israel began its military campaign, creating a humanitarian catastrophe.

Post-apartheid South Africa has long championed the Palestinian cause, a relationship that developed when Yasser Arabat's Palestine Liberation Organization welcomed the African National Congress's struggle against white minority rule.

The court is expected to rule on possible emergency measures this month, but will not issue a ruling on the genocide charges at that time, as that could take years.

The judgments of the International Court of Justice are final and not open to appeal, but there is no way to enforce its judgments.

(Prepared by Salma Najm for Arabic Bulletin – Editing by Soha Jado)

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