Israel Says It Will Defend Itself Against Genocide Accusations at World Court Filed by South Africa

Eylon Levy, Israeli government spokesperson, speaks to members of the media during his daily briefing in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Nov. 28, 2023. (Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images)
Published January 3, 2024

TEL AVIV, Israel—Israel will defend itself before the United Nation’s top court against charges that it has engaged in genocide of Palestinians in Gaza, officials said Tuesday, a rare engagement with the world body, which Israel often denounces as biased against it.

South Africa launched the case Friday at the International Court of Justice at The Hague, Netherlands, saying the magnitude of death, destruction, and humanitarian crisis in Gaza from the Israeli military campaign against the Hamas terrorist group meets the threshold of genocide under international law. South Africa asked the court to order Israel to halt its attacks in Gaza.

Israel dismisses international cases against it as unfair and biased and rarely cooperates.

Eylon Levy, an official in the Israeli prime minister’s office, on Tuesday accused South Africa of “giving political and legal cover” to the Oct. 7 attack by Hamas that triggered Israel’s campaign.

“The state of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice at the Hague to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel,” he said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to press ahead with the war until Hamas is crushed and the more than 100 hostages still held by the terrorist group in Gaza are freed, which he has said could take several more months.



RELATED: Israel responds to South Africa’s genocide accusations

Published January 3, 2024

Israel on Tuesday said it would defend itself against genocide accusations filed by South Africa last week.

South Africa launched the case at the International Court of Justice on Friday, accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and asking the court to order Israel to halt its attacks.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy on Tuesday called the accusations “blood libel” and said that Israel would appear before the ICJ in the Hague to dispel the claims.

Levy also said that the case lacked “both a factual and a legal basis”.

South African support for Palestinians

South Africa has been a vociferous critic of Israel since the war began on October 7.

Their filing at the ICJ is just the latest in a series of actions taken by the South African government against Israel’s attacks in Gaza.

South Africa said Israel violates the UN’s Genocide Convention, and called for an expedited hearing



RELATED: South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, explained

President Cyril Ramaphosa with the delegates of Organisations supporting the Liberation of Palestine at Chief Albert Luthuli House on December 18, 2023, in Johannesburg, South Africa. Luba Lesolle/Gallo Images via Getty Images
Published January 3, 2024

The South African government has taken its firmest stance yet against Israel’s war in Gaza, accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians in a new case in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the Hague.

South Africa initiated the case Friday and requested the ICJ order Israel to stop its onslaught in Gaza immediately. While South Africa’s filing may not affect the outcome of the war in any meaningful way, it does draw on longstanding ties between Black South Africans’ liberation struggle and that of the Palestinian people. It also signals the country’s desire to challenge the US-dominated international order that it sees as unfair to African and non-Western interests.

The 84-page application states that “The acts and omissions by Israel complained of by South Africa are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group,” in violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Israel quickly rejected the filing “with disgust,” calling it a “blood libel” — a reference to a false accusation that originated in the Middle Ages that Jewish people would murder Christians and use their blood in rituals, and which was used as a justification for oppression of Jewish communities.

The ICJ is different from the International Criminal Court, which is already investigating alleged war crimes committed by both Israel and Hamas stemming from the October 7 attacks. The ICC is set up to investigate and prosecute individuals at the highest levels who are accused of planning and directing war crimes, while national courts are typically the venue to prosecute perpetrators of low-level war crimes — individual fighters who may have carried out war crimes directed by those high-level commanders or leaders.





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Cherry May Timbol – Independent Reporter
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