Johannesburg- South Africa last week became the first country to file a lawsuit against Israel international justice Court In The Hague, which increases international pressure on the Israeli occupation to stop the ongoing aggression against the Gaza Strip, since October 7, which has so far resulted in the martyrdom of more than 22,000 Palestinians, including thousands of children.
In the 84-page lawsuit, which South Africa submitted to the court on December 29, the accompanying evidence explains the brutality being committed in Gaza, in addition to an urgent request for the court, which is considered the United Nations body for resolving disputes between states, to quickly declare that… “Israel has violated its obligations under international law since October 7th.”
South Africa accused Israel before the International Court of Justice of committing genocide against the Palestinians in Gaza, noting that “Israel carried out specific actions with the intent to destroy the Palestinians as a national, racial and ethnic group,” which constitutes a violation of the Convention on Genocide.
She noted in her lawsuit that “Israel failed to prevent genocide and incited it,” and the request calls for “interim measures to protect the rights of Palestinians and ensure Israel’s compliance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention.”
Namibia, a former German colony, came under the administration of South Africa after World War I, through a mandate. The League of NationsAlthough the League of Nations was later dissolved, South Africa refused to give up its control over Namibia.
And it was considered United nations “South Africa’s continued administration of Namibia is illegal,” while South Africa considered that the United Nations aimed with this statement to transfer its control over Namibia to the United Nations, which prompted it to reject the resolutions of the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council.
In 1960, the United Nations requested an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice on the legal consequences of South Africa's continued presence in Namibia, and the International Court of Justice issued its decision in 1971, in which it noted that “South Africa's continued administration of Namibia is illegal under international law.” Stressing that South Africa is obligated to withdraw its administration from Namibia immediately.
Despite the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, South Africa retained control over Namibia for several years, and the issue remained a focal point in international forums, which in turn put diplomatic pressure on South Africa, leading to Namibia eventually gaining its independence from South Africa in 1990, after extensive international pressure, negotiations, and implementation of the United Nations plan for the independence of Namibia.
What are South Africa's accusations against Israel?
- Israel committed genocide in Gaza, in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in part or in whole, a national, racial, religious or sectarian group.”
- Committing genocidal acts, including killing Palestinians in Gaza in large numbers, especially children, destroying their homes, expelling and displacing them, and imposing a blockade on basic resources.
- Imposing measures that prevent Palestinians from giving birth, by destroying basic health services necessary for the survival of pregnant women and children.
- Responsibility for incitement to genocide and refraining from prosecuting instigators, referring in particular to statements made by Israeli officials during the war, which sought to justify the killing and destruction in Gaza.
- An emergency request to stop operations and move quickly to prevent Israel from committing more crimes in the Strip, most likely by issuing an order to stop the attack. The International Court said – in a statement – that this request would be a priority, but it did not specify a timetable.
The importance of the lawsuit
For his part, researcher in African and Middle Eastern affairs, Naeem Jenna, considered that “the documentation provided by South Africa indicates the urgent need for such issues, in light of the increasing misinformation about the war.”
Gina adds, “These measures are important to slow the normalization of any mass crimes committed by Israel, and send a message that if there is a country that will commit mass crimes as Israel is doing, we must expect it to be brought before an international court with authority at the international level, to review the record of the country in question.” In front of international standards.
Anthony Hodgson, an activist in the Jewish Committee to Support Palestine, also welcomed the decision of the South African government to pursue urgent recourse to the International Court of Justice, regarding the ongoing genocide committed by Israel in Gaza.
He affirmed their rejection of “the deliberate and malicious attempts made by the Israeli government and its allies to interpret attempts to hold Israel responsible as anti-Semitism,” indicating that they “praise their government’s decision to take a principled position and not to be intimidated by bad faith actors who deliberately distort the facts on the ground.” “.
South Africa also clarified that the statements made by Israeli officials, including the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahushowed “intent to exterminate.” For example, the lawsuit cited Netanyahu’s statements in which he compared the Palestinians to the people of the Amalekites (Amalekites) in the Jewish Bible, where God commanded the Israelites to destroy them, and the biblical verse says, “Now go and smite the Amalekites… kill the man, the woman, and the infants.” “.
Moreover, it cited Netanyahu saying in his statement on December 26 that “despite the destruction of Gaza and the killing of thousands, we will intensify the fighting in the coming days, and this will be a long battle.” Several other statements were also cited, including those In which Israeli officials described the people of Gaza as a “force of injustice,” in contrast to Israel, which they described as a “force of light.”
South Africa says that “the scope of the Israeli army’s operations, its indiscriminate bombing and executions of civilians, in addition to Israel’s blockade of food, water, medicine, fuel, shelter and other humanitarian assistance,” are evidence of its claim, stressing that these measures have brought the sector to “the brink of famine.”
It stated that Israel is committing other violations of international law in the Gaza Strip in addition to genocide, such as launching attacks on Palestinian culture, by targeting sites of “religion, education, art and science, historical monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected.”
Researcher Naim Jina confirms to Al Jazeera Net that, “Under the Genocide Convention, cases of genocide crimes have been filed against other countries, whether they were directly involved in the conflict or not,” noting that in 2019, The Gambia filed a lawsuit on behalf of Organization of Islamic Cooperation– A request to the court against Myanmar, for its crimes against Rohingya.
Jena explained that both South Africa and Israel are parties to the International Court, which means that its decisions are binding on both parties. However, the International Court does not have executive authority, and its orders have been ignored in some cases without serious penalties.
Kiev had filed a case against Moscow in the court in March 2022, one month before Russia's war on Ukraine, in which Ukraine asked the court to establish emergency measures to stop Russia's aggression.
The court ordered Moscow to halt military operations after a short time, and indicated that it was “deeply concerned” about the attack on Ukraine, but all of this did not prevent the ongoing Russian war on Ukraine.
The International Court of Justice will hold a hearing from January 11 to 12, although the procedures may take time that may extend to years. To this day, the Court is still examining the Gambia v. Myanmar case since 2019, but South Africa has requested to revitalize the process. This could lead to a request for an emergency order from the international court, which could lead to quick results within weeks, as happened in the Ukraine case.
In response to the lawsuit, the Israeli Foreign Ministry strongly denied the genocide accusations, describing the case as a “bloody slander, grotesque exploitation, and disdain for the court.” The ministry accused Pretoria of being a “criminal accomplice in Hamas attacks.”
For the first time in its history, Israel agreed to stand before the court and file an appeal in the genocide case filed by South Africa. While this is not the first judicial move against Israel in its history, this lawsuit filed by South Africa is considered a difference, because it used the agreement paper. The International Committee against Genocide, which Israel has agreed to and is a signatory to.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Elon Levy stated, “Tel Aviv will defend itself in the Hague sessions, assuring South African leaders that history will judge them, and it will judge them without mercy.”