Dec. 30: South Africa has filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing it of crimes of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza after nearly three months of relentless Israeli bombardment that has killed more than 21,500 people and caused widespread destruction in the besieged enclave, multiple reports said on Saturday.
In an application to the court on Friday, South Africa described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group”.
“The acts in question include killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction,” the application said.
The ICJ, also called the World Court, is a UN civil court that adjudicates disputes between countries. It is distinct from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes individuals for war crimes.
As members of the UN, both South Africa and Israel are bound by the court.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the occupied West Bank with his country’s past apartheid regime of racial segregation imposed by the white-minority rule that ended in 1994.
Several human rights organisations have said that Israeli policies towards Palestinians amount to apartheid.
South Africa said Israel’s conduct, particularly since the war began on October 7, violates the UN’s Genocide Convention, and called for an expedited hearing. The application also requests the court to indicate provisional measures to “protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people” under the Convention.
“South Africa is gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants,” a statement from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said, adding that the country has “repeatedly stated that it condemns all violence and attacks against all civilians, including Israelis.”