South Africa, on Thursday, demanded the International Court of Justice (ICJ) impose provisional measures on Israel to halt its assault on Gaza, while asking Israel to take measures to “prevent genocide”, Anadolu Agency reports.
At a hearing of its genocide case against Israel in The Hague, the South African delegation said: “The future of the Palestinians who are still in Gaza depends on the decision this Court will make on this matter.”
The delegation underlined that the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza formed a “calculated pattern of conduct by Israel indicating a genocidal intent.”
Adila Hassim, one of the delegation’s lawyers, underscored at the hearing that the genocide case “underscores the very essence of our shared humanity as expressed in the preamble to the Genocide Convention.”
Stressing that genocides are “never declared in advance”, Hassim said: “But this Court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly, a pattern of conduct and related intention that justifies a plausible claim of genocidal acts.”
The delegation also demanded the ICJ not hesitate to impose provisional measures, as it “did not hesitate” in the case of the genocide against Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar, asserting that the situation in Gaza also deserves court intervention.
“There is an urgent need for provisional measures to prevent imminent irreparable prejudice” in this case, South Africa said, underlining that “there could not be a clearer or more compelling case”.
World ‘should be ashamed’
The delegation urged the ICJ that “there must be an end to the decimation of Gaza and its people”, as the international community “continues to fail” to take action.
“The international community continues to fail the Palestinian people, despite the overt, dehumanising genocidal rhetoric by Israeli government and military officials, matched by the Israeli army actions on the ground,” it said.
“Despite the horror of the genocide against the Palestinian people, being live streamed from Gaza to our mobile phones, computers and television screens, the first genocide in history where its victims are broadcasting their own destruction in real time in the desperate, so far vain, hope “that the world might do something,” the delegation further said.
South Africa also emphasised that the cross-border attack by the Palestinian group Hamas on 7 October “cannot justify Israel’s genocidal acts”.
“No matter what some individuals within the group of Palestinians in Gaza may have done, no matter how great the threat to Israeli citizens might be, genocidal attacks on the whole of Gaza population cannot be justified,” it told the ICJ.
It added: “No exception can be made in a provisional measures order to allow a State to engage in actions that are capable of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention. It is unthinkable that the Court would ever do such a thing. That is the simple point in this case.”
“Genocide can never be justified in any circumstances,” it stressed, noting that South Africa already condemned the 7 October attacks.
Israel’s military operations ‘should be suspended immediately’
The South African delegation called on Israel to “immediately suspend” its military operations in and against Gaza.
The delegation stressed the immediate suspension of Israel’s operations is “the only way to secure humanitarian response and avoid getting more unnecessary death and destruction.”
It also urged the Israeli government to take “all reasonable measures within their power to prevent genocide”, while ensuring no “furtherance of military operations” by the forces under its control or influence.
Israel should take measures, including rescinding of relevant orders of restrictions, forced prohibitions to prevent expulsion, displacement of Gazans, it requested.
The delegation also demanded from Israel to allow access to humanitarian assistance in Gaza, including adequate shelter, clothes, hygiene, sanitation and medical supplies.
Furthermore, South Africa asked Israel to take “effective measures” to ensure preservation of evidence related to allegations of genocidal acts.
Public hearings commence
Public hearings in the genocide case against Israel began on Thursday at ICJ in The Hague.
On the first day of the trial, South Africa presented hard evidence in the case it filed on 29 December, accusing Israel of genocide and violation of the UN Genocide Convention with its actions in the Gaza Strip since 7 October.
The South African side is requesting an injunction by the top UN Court to halt Israel’s military assault on Gaza, which has dragged on for more than three months, with the death toll rising to over 23,300.
The 84-page filing by South Africa accuses Israel of acts and omissions “genocidal in character, as they are committed with the requisite specific intent … to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group.”
It said Israel’s genocidal acts include the killing of Palestinians, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, mass expulsion from homes and displacement, imposing measures intended to prevent Palestinian births, and deprivation of access to adequate food, water, shelter, sanitation and medical assistance.
The South African delegation is being led by Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, and will be joined by senior political figures from progressive political parties and movements across the globe.
Thursday’s hearing will be followed by Israel’s arguments in its defence the next day.