South Africa has complained to Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention. The case revolves around Israel’s actions towards the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza.
The allegations made by South Africa claim that Israel is not fulfilling its obligations under the treaty, which was created in response to the Holocaust. The treaty criminalizes any attempts to destroy a population, either in part or in whole. South Africa has requested the court to issue interim measures, compelling Israel to cease its military campaign in Gaza. They argue that this is necessary to prevent further severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people.
Israel’s foreign ministry has dismissed the lawsuit as unfounded. In response to South Africa’s complaint, Israel’s foreign ministry has placed blame on Hamas for the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. They accuse Hamas of using civilians as human shields and stealing humanitarian aid. Hamas denies these allegations. The ministry’s statement emphasizes that Israel considers the residents of Gaza as non-enemies and is actively working to minimize harm to those not involved in the conflict.
Palestine, whose statehood is a subject of dispute but is recognized by the court as having “observer state” status, has expressed support for South Africa’s complaint. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry has urged the court to take immediate action to safeguard the Palestinian people and has called on Israel, as the occupying power, to cease its offensive actions.
South Africa has taken further action against Israel, a country it has been critical of regarding its war activities. In addition to voting in favour of closing down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspending diplomatic relations, South Africa has now filed a court application. The Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) stated that Israel has failed to prevent genocide and prosecute those who incite it since October 7, 2023.
This move by South Africa is rooted in a historical context where the country has long supported the Palestinian cause for statehood in Israeli-occupied territories. South Africa draws parallels between the struggles of Palestinians and the Black majority during the apartheid era, a comparison that Israel strongly rejects.
It is worth noting that the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague is also conducting a separate investigation into alleged atrocities in Gaza and the West Bank. However, no suspects have been named, and Israel, as a non-member of the ICC, rejects its jurisdiction.