SA complains against Israel ‘barbaric, outrageous’

Henry

Ronald Lamola, the minister of justice and correctional services, will lead South Africa’s delegation to the International Court of Justice in The Hague where the first part of the country’s genocide complaint against Israel will be heard on Thursday and Friday.

The delegation consists of several South African diplomats and officials, which include Phindile Baleni, Director-General in the Presidency, Zane Dangor, Director-General of the Department of International Relations and Conspiracy, and Adv. Doctor Mashabane, Director General of the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development.

Senior international political figures will also join the delegation, including Jeremy Corbyn, former leader of the opposition in the United Kingdom.

“We are determined to see an end to the genocide currently taking place in Gaza,” Lamola said on Tuesday.

“We are especially encouraged by world leaders who are not blind (to this) and stand on the right side of history by supporting a cause that aims to protect the rights of people, regardless of their nationality or ethnicity.”

Israel’s president, Isaac Herzog, meanwhile described South Africa’s complaint as “barbaric and outrageous”.

He made these comments on Tuesday during a news conference where the US Minister of Foreign Affairs, Antony Blinken, was also present.

South Africa accuses Israel of acts of genocide against the Palestinian population due to its attacks in the Gaza Strip and argues that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention of 1948, of which both countries are signatories.

Herzog and Blinken met on Tuesday morning where they discussed, among other things, this case, as well as the pleas of Israeli hostages who are still being held by the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

“I emphasized that we, in the International Court of Justice, will clearly and proudly present Israel’s fundamental right to defend itself,” Herzog said on the social media platform X.

“There is no greater hypocrisy than the accusations against Israel – which is acting in accordance with international humanitarian law to do everything possible to protect civilians while we fight a cruel and barbaric enemy who deliberately and gleefully commits mass murder. This while they (Hamas) are hiding behind a human shield.”

Although there is also a lot of criticism against South Africa’s complaint, it seems that the case has been gaining more support over the past few days. By Tuesday, more than a thousand progressive international organizations had declared their support for South Africa’s application, according to a report by News24.

However, the US remains one of Israel’s allies that still stands firmly behind this country.

This week the court will focus on the first aspect of South Africa’s case, namely its application that interim measures must be immediately introduced to stop Israel and protect the Palestinian population.

Old UN report ‘corroborates’ SA argument

South Africa’s legal team, led by Adv. Adila Hassim, will argue in oral arguments on Thursday that the Israeli army’s attacks on Gaza after Hamas’ attack on October 7 went far beyond self-defense.

South Africa believes that Israel aims to wipe out the entire Gaza population as part of a larger objective to target the Palestinian population.

News24 further reports that South Africa’s arguments against Israel’s self-defense argument are based on a 2009 report by the United Nations fact-finding mission on the Gaza conflict. This report contradicts Israel’s self-defense argument and states, among other things, that Israel’s carefully planned military operations are indeed wider than protecting the country and its citizens from missile attacks and the like, but rather target the people of Gaza as a whole.

“The repeated failure to distinguish between combatants and civilians seems more like the result of deliberate guided orders to soldiers, as described by some of them, rather than occasional incidents,” the report at the time said.

RNews earlier reported that in addition to an order to order Israel to immediately stop its Gaza offensive, South Africa is also asking for orders to stop forced deportations and allow humanitarian access.

The court of justice can grant all these measures as requested by South Africa, or reject the country’s application in its entirety. The court may even make a completely different decision, or decide that it is not empowered to make a judgment.

Although it has already happened that countries have blatantly ignored the court of justice’s rulings, several analysts have now said that a symbolic decision is just as important. Should the court grant the interim measures and Israel ignore them, it will continue to remind the world that states are also accountable. Experts believe that in this respect the matter will probably become a moral issue.

It can also encourage other states to take action against Israel, for example imposing sanctions or ceasing financial support and other agreements.

The merits of the broader complaint that Israel is engaged in acts that amount to or may lead to genocide will only be heard later. A ruling in this regard may take years, although a ruling on the interim measures can be delivered within weeks.