SA states its case: ‘Genocides are never declared in advance’

Henry

South Africa says that even Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel on 7 October last year cannot justify the country’s actions in the Gaza Strip.

“No armed attack on a state territory, no matter how serious… can justify or defend violations of the convention,” Minister Ronald Lamola said on Thursday in the Peace Palace in The Hague, while the world’s eyes were on the International Court of Justice and this legal battle is established.

South Africa accuses Israel before this court of having violated the UN Genocide Convention.

“Israel’s response to the attack of 7 October crossed this line and gave rise to the violations of the convention,” argued Lamola this morning in the United Nations (UN) highest court.

“The physical and mental suffering of the Palestinian people is undeniable,” Adv. Adila Hassim, on behalf of South Africa, said during her speech, before she went on to argue that Israel’s military operations in Gaza have pushed civilians to the “brink of starvation”.

According to Hassim, nothing will be able to put an end to the Palestinian people in Gaza’s “unbearable suffering” “except an order from this court”.

“Genocides are never declared in advance, but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that indisputably shows a pattern of behavior and related intent that warrants a credible allegation of acts of genocide,” argued Hassim.

Hassim further argued that the first act of genocide committed by Israel was “the mass murders of Palestinians in Gaza”. She pointed out that more than 23,000 people had already died during the conflict. About 70% of the victims are women and children.

According to Hassim, Israel knows all too well how many lives its bombs can claim.

“There is no indication that Israel accepts responsibility for rebuilding what was destroyed. Instead, the destruction by the Israeli army is celebrated. Soldiers film themselves gleefully blowing up entire apartment blocks and town squares and raising the Israeli flag over the rubble.”

Evidence of ‘genocidal intent’

Adv. Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, on behalf of South Africa, argued this afternoon that Israel has genocidal intent in Gaza. “It is systematic in its action and form. There is also a clear behavioral pattern. Where we stand today, 1% of the Palestinian population in Gaza has been decimated.”

According to Ngcukaitobi, Israeli leaders also signaled their genocidal intent and Israeli soldiers repeated it according to him.

Ngcukaitobi cited a number of Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to support his point.

“The statements were made by persons under the command of the state. If the statements were not intended, the leaders would not have made them. The genocidal intent of these statements is not ambiguous to Israeli soldiers on the ground,” argued Ngcukaitobi.

“These are orders to destroy and mutilate what cannot be destroyed. These statements are not open to neutral interpretation or rationalizations and reinterpretations by Israel. The statements were made by persons under command of the state. They communicated state policy”.

Ngcukaitobi also referred to a “motivational speech” by an Israeli army reservist who allegedly called on Israeli soldiers to slaughter Palestinians in October.

“Erase the memory of them. Wipe them out, their families, mothers and children. These animals can no longer live… Every Jew with a weapon must go out and kill them. If you have an Arab neighbor, don’t wait, go to his house and shoot him,” read the so-called motivational speech.

Adv. Max du Plessis, for South Africa, also addressed the International Court of Justice.

According to Du Plessis, South Africa’s complaint is motivated “by the need to protect Palestinians in Gaza and their absolute rights not to be subjected to genocide”.

The case continues. Keep an eye on RNews for more information.