Historically, South Africa has been a strong partner of Israel and has supported it in implementation Apartheid system (Apartheid), and today the state that got rid of its racist legacy has become a legal opponent of Tel Aviv in international justice Court On charges of genocide in Gaza, this is the first time that Israel has been prosecuted for the violations it commits against the Palestinian people.
On December 29, South Africa filed a lawsuit against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, accusing it of committing genocide against the residents of the Gaza Strip, and demanded that the court take measures to protect the Palestinians during the brutal war that the occupation has been waging against the Strip since the 7th of December. Last October.
South Africa asserts in the 84-page lawsuit that “Israel’s actions and omissions bear the character of genocide because they are accompanied by the requisite specific intent (…) to destroy the Palestinians of Gaza as part of the broader national, racial and ethnic group, that is, the Palestinians.”
The suit also notes that Israel's conduct “through State agencies, agents of the State and other persons and entities acting on its instructions or under its direction, control or influence” constitutes a violation of its obligations towards Palestinians in Gaza under the Genocide Convention.
Both South Africa and Israel signed the 1948 Genocide Convention, which grants the International Court of Justice jurisdiction to adjudicate disputes on the basis of the treaty. The convention obliges all signatory states not to commit genocide, and to prevent and punish genocide.
The lawsuit further stated that Israel “failed to prevent genocide and failed to prosecute direct and overt incitement to genocide.” On the other hand, Israel announced its acceptance to appear before the court to face what it called the “ridiculous and baseless accusations” leveled against it by South Africa, and it will attend the sessions on January 11 and 12.
History of crimes
From a historical angle, before the establishment of the entity, Israel and the Israeli gangs relied on committing brutal crimes that aimed to terrorize and displace the Palestinians from their land. Research by Palestinian centers indicates that more than 100 major massacres have occurred since 1947, all of which have the elements. War crimes AndCrimes against humanity AndEthnic cleansingBut Israel remained outside the scope of accountability.
Based on the evidence of history and what Israel is committing in its brutal war on Gaza, there is no need for crimes against humanity in accordance with Article 7 of Rome Statute to be proven, including murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation or forcible transfer of population, imprisonment, torture or any other serious form of deprivation of physical liberty, in violation of fundamental provisions of international law.
Such crimes also include the persecution of any specific group or community on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual grounds, the enforced disappearance of persons, the crime of apartheid and other inhumane acts of a similar nature which intentionally cause great suffering or serious injury to physical integrity or health. physical or mental.
These acts, which fall within the category of war crimes and crimes against humanity, occur on a daily basis in the war waged by Israel against Gaza, through clear and documented audio and video evidence without the slightest doubt that they “deliberately cause great suffering or serious harm to the physical safety or physical or mental health of the civilian population.” .
Most human rights and relief organizations, such as: Amnesty InternationalHuman Rights Watch, Doctors Without Borders, and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA) and the World Health Organization, and the International Red Cross on the criminal nature of Israeli military actions against the civilian population, and even against employees of international bodies.
The International Court of Justice, also called the World Court, is the highest legal body of the United Nations. It was established in 1945 to deal with disputes between states. It differs from the treaty-based International Criminal Court, which is also based in The Hague and deals with war crimes charges against individuals.
Genocide between action and intent
Genocide was defined in the First International Convention against Genocide, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948 and entering into force in 1951, then in numerous UN texts and in the Rome Statute (Article 6) itself.
Genocide means any of the following acts committed with the intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, such as:
- Killing group members
- Serious harm to the physical or mental integrity of group members
- Intentionally subjecting the group to living conditions intended to cause its physical destruction, in whole or in part
- Measures to prevent births within the group
- Forced transfer of children from one group to another
The term genocide was first used by Polish lawyer Rafael Lemkin in 1946, and in 1946 the United Nations General Assembly recognized the term “genocide” as a crime under international law, says the Office for the Prevention of Genocide and the Responsibility to Protect, a United Nations body, This term was included in the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in 1948, which has been ratified by 149 countries.
The crime of genocide is not subject to a statute of limitations, and its perpetrators do not benefit from immunity, as every person who committed it or ordered it to be committed is prosecuted without regard to their position, whether they are rulers, public officials, or irresponsible individuals, in accordance with Articles Three and Four of the Convention on the Prevention of the Crime of Genocide.
Israel… plan, intention and action
Based on what was documented and transmitted directly in audio and video, experts and analysts believe that Israel carried out genocide in Gaza with its integrated elements, given the size of the devastating bombings that were filmed, the direct targeting of the population extensively (with the intention of displacement), the killings, the siege, the mass physical and psychological torture, and the destruction of homes and centers. Intentionally sheltering, destroying or cutting off essential means of life, including water, electricity, fuel and communications.
Legal experts believe that committing the act of stifling siege and completely or partially preventing the entry of humanitarian food and medical aid, and the documented deliberate and planned attacks on hospitals, ambulances and recovery rooms, the death of patients and children due to the impossibility of treating them, and the systematic and forced displacement of Gazans to the south fall within the context of genocide. .
If intention and intent are among the basic pillars of recognizing genocide and proving that its perpetrators intended to physically destroy a group or part of a group (national, ethnic, racial or religious in accordance with the Convention), then Israeli practices on the ground or statements to officials indicate the existence of an implicit plan or systematic policy. It is implemented.
Human rights activists point out the presence of what they call a “genocidal tendency” that is frequent and repeated in the official statements and speeches of members of the government. Benjamin Netanyahu Or other officials, including invoking the narrative of “the war against the forces of evil and barbarism,” stripping Palestinians of their humanity and describing them as animals, as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant said on October 9, 2023:
“We impose a complete siege on Gaza City. There is no electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we act accordingly.”
This statement contains everything that could be taken as a premeditated crime of genocide. Israeli officials also repeatedly repeated that there are no civilians in the Gaza Strip and everyone is terrorists, and Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu called on November 4 for the use of nuclear weapons against the residents of Gaza if necessary, which was also echoed by former Knesset member Moshe Feiglin.
The phrase “destroying Gaza and making it unlivable” was also mentioned by a number of Israeli politicians, while former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked requested that Khan Yunis be transformed into a “vast football field.” Proposals to displace the residents of Gaza to Sinai in Egypt, or to deport them to other countries were repeated by a number of Israeli ministers, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the process of cramming more than a million Gazans under the weight of brutal bombing and cutting off their means of life appears to be a stage of that Israeli plan. Which is consistent with the requirements of genocide, as analysts and experts in international law point out.
In an interview with the “Breaking Points” channel on YouTube, Israeli historian Raz Segal, a professor in the Department of Holocaust and Genocide Research at Stockton University, pointed out that “Israel is deeply immersed in genocide discourse, and this appears in the media, politics, and in public life.”
He also pointed out the presence of large banners on bridges and public roads calling for the leveling of Gaza to the ground and its destruction, adding that the matter “does not require a degree in comparative literature to interpret such signs and expressions.”
On December 12, Seagal called in a speech in front of the United Nations building in New York “for there to be an intention and action to call the events genocide within the framework of the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, as the numerous statements by Israeli leaders reveal the intention to destroy the Palestinian people.” .
There were also protest reactions to Israeli crimes in Gaza, as the director of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in New York, lawyer Craig Mokheiber, resigned on October 31 from his position, in protest against what he called silence towards “a typical case of genocide in Gaza.” , as the former prosecutor pointed out to the International Criminal CourtOn October 17, Luis Moreno-Ocampo noted that “the crimes committed by Israel could constitute a case of genocide.”
A step on a long path
The International Court of Justice panel, consisting of 15 judges, in addition to one judge from each party to the case (Israel and South Africa), is expected to consider accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza and set the dates for the start of the trial, as well as the dates for deciding on the temporary (emergency) measures it requested. South Africa to protect the Palestinians in Gaza, including halting military operations and allowing the forced return of displaced persons and the immediate entry of humanitarian aid.
According to the precautionary measures, the court should first consider whether it has jurisdiction to hear the case, and whether the actions of which Israel is accused violate the Genocide Convention.
South Africa and Israel will have two hours during January 11 and 12 to present legal arguments for or against interim or emergency measures in the presence of a team of international lawyers. The judiciary often issues a reference to these measures by demanding that the state (in this case Israel) refrain from any action that might exacerbate the conflict.
The court will not issue a final ruling on genocide charges until a session is appointed and held to fully examine the case, which may take years, according to experts in international law.
Although the rulings of the International Court of Justice are final and not subject to appeal, there is no way to implement them or oblige them to be respected, but issuing a ruling against Israel would set a legal precedent, deepen Israel’s isolation, and harm its reputation internationally.