Today (11thJanuary 2024) the International Court of Justice (ICJ) will be hearing a case brought by South Africa against Israel that the latter is committing genocide against the Palestinian people in Gaza, writes Harvey John. South Africa is bringing the Zionist state to court on charges of genocide, in violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of The Crime of Genocide. South Africa has long offered its support to Palestine, both countries having suffered under an apartheid system. 

Israel became the home state of Jewish people in 1948 at the expense of the Palestinians who were forcibly removed from the region so that the country of Israel could be created. Over the last 74 years, Israel has done nothing to bring about an end to the conflict. Rather than share the land peacefully, it has time and time again suppressed the rights of Palestinians, forcing them further and further from their homelands. 

Israeli’s attempts to force Palestinians into submission have not been unopposed. Hamas is the latest in a long line of organisations seeking Palestinian independence. On 7th October they launched one of their largest attacks to date, resulting in over one thousand civilian casualties.

In response Israel has lashed out at the civilians in Gaza with the apparent intent to remove every Palestinian down to the last man, woman and child from the lands adjacent to what we now know as Israel. The response across the world to Israel’s atrocities led to a UN security council resolution for a humanitarian ceasefire. 

This resolution was put forward by the Arab Emirates and backed by over 90 countries. The US vetoed the resolution. There were 13 votes in favour and the United Kingdom abstained.

According to the latest information from Al Jazeera, the current death toll in Gaza has now exceeded 23,000. Israel has continued to attack the region with air and ground attacks, with over two-thirds of the casualties being women and children as well as over one million Palestinians displaced from Northern Gaza since 13th October. 

Despite Israel’s dominance in the theatre of war, Adel Adbel Ghafar, senior analyst at the Middle East Council on Global Affairs, believes that Israel’s relentless massacre has led to a loss of their ‘carte blanche’.

“As scenes of carnage, displaced populations, dead children and starvation fill our screen, the tide is really shifting…”

On 29th December, South Africa filed with the ICJ to end Israel’s genocide in Gaza. South Africa has accused Israel of violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of The Crime of Genocide. It is worth noting that these proceedings may take several years before a ruling is made by the court. Despite this, South Africa has asked that the court implement provisional measures. These include Israel suspending military activity and ending the destruction to preserve evidence of their crimes. South Africa has stated that the acts of genocide should be placed in “the broader context of Israel’s conduct towards Palestinians during its 75-year-long apartheid, its 56-year-long belligerent occupation of Palestinian territory and its 16-year-long blockade of Gaza.” The Court will hear South Africa today and Israel tomorrow. Live coverage can be seen here

Israel has responded strongly to the accusations, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejecting the claims of genocide;

“No, South Africa, it is not we who have come to perpetrate genocide, it is Hamas. It would murder all of us if it could. In contrast, the IDF is acting as morally as possible.”

The Israeli Foreign Minister has accused South Africa of working “in collaboration” with Hamas. 

Despite Israel’s calls for the proceedings to be halted, South Africa is fully prepared to go ahead, with Prime Minister Cyril Ramaphosa issuing a statement condemning Israel’s actions as well as noting the importance of acting now against the Zionist state:

“We do this not out of political adventurism, for us this is a matter of principle. A principle that is born out of our own experience as a people of South Africa, who struggled against an oppressive apartheid system. People around the world are responding with horror to what they see in Gaza. This should stop now. Hostages must be released and so must the prisoners who are being held in Israeli prisons be released to create a conducive environment for peaceful discussions.” 

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