Israel-Palestine conflict: South Africa files "genocide" case at ICJ

South Africa has accused Israel of intent to "destroy Palestinians in Gaza" in an appeal to the UN's top court. Israel dismissed the allegation, accusing South Africa of collaborating with Hamas

Israel insisted it was making efforts to limit harm to non-combatants in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza (photo: DW)
Israel insisted it was making efforts to limit harm to non-combatants in its conflict with Hamas in Gaza (photo: DW)
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South Africa files "genocide" case against Israel in World Court

South Africa has accused Israel of "genocide" against Palestinians at the United Nation's top court.

The case filed to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) alleges that "acts and omissions by Israel […] are genocidal in character."

It also accused Israel of acting with the intent to "destroy Palestinians in Gaza as part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group."

"Israel, since 7 October 2023 in particular, has failed to prevent genocide and has failed to prosecute the direct and public incitement to genocide," said a statement from South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation.

The department urged the ICJ to declare "on an urgent basis that Israel is in breach of its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention, should immediately cease all acts and measures in breach of those obligations and take a number of related actions."

Israel has rejected South Africa's allegations, accusing it of "collaborating" with "terrorists".

"South Africa is collaborating with a terrorist group that calls for Israel's destruction," said a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry. "The people of Gaza are not an enemy of Israel, who is making efforts to limit harm to non-combatants."

Israel classifies Hamas as a terrorist organisation, as do the United States, the European Union, Germany and several other states.

Around 85% of the Gaza Strip's population has been displaced in the conflict. The Health Ministry in the Hamas-controlled territory has said that over 21,000 people have been killed in Israeli airstrikes and fighting since October 7.

On Tuesday, 26 December, South African lawmakers voted to suspend formal ties with Israel and close Israel's embassy. The move needs to be approved by President Cyril Ramaphosa to take effect.

Palestinian Authority welcomes South Africa's case against Israel at ICJ

The Palestinian Authority's Foreign Ministry has welcomed South Africa's accusation of "genocide" against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), calling for immediate action to "protect the Palestinian people".

"The State of Palestine welcomes the decision of the Government of South Africa to institute proceedings against Israel," it said in a statement posted on X, formerly Twitter. 

"Israel's stated policy, acts and omissions are genocidal in character" it went on, describing Israel's "colonial occupation and apartheid regime."


WHO chief warns of infectious disease risk in Gaza

World Health Organization (WHO) head Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has warned that infectious diseases could be spreading among those displaced by Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza.

"As people continue to be massively displaced across the south of Gaza, with some families forced to move multiple times and many sheltering in overcrowded health facilities, my WHO colleagues and I remain very concerned about the increasing threat of infectious diseases," he said on the platform X, formerly known as Twitter.

"Since mid-October until mid-December, people living in shelters have continued to fall sick," he added.

Tedros said almost 180,000 people in the territory were suffering from upper respiratory infections and there were 136,400 cases of diarrhea.

He also pointed to the thousands of cases of lice, scabies, chickenpox, skin rash and jaundice, and over 100 cases of meningitis.

Tedros said the WHO and its partners were "working tirelessly to support the health authorities to increase disease surveillance and control" and "trying to improve access to safe water, food, hygiene and sanitation services."

Around 85% of the Palestinian territory's population of around 2.3 million has been internally displaced since the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas.

International organisations such as the WHO have repeatedly warned that overcrowding at shelters and a lack of proper sanitation or access to medical supplies increase the risk of epidemics.

US skips congressional review to approve sale of weapons to Israel

US President Joe Biden's administration has used an emergency authority for the second time this month to authorise the sale of weapons to Israel, the Pentagon said Friday, 29 December.

The move means the $147.5 million (€134 million) sale can proceed without congressional review.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken determined that an emergency exists that requires the immediate sale to Israel, thereby waiving the congressional review requirements.

The equipment includes fuses, charges, and primers needed to make the 155 mm artillery shells that Israel has already purchased function.

Blinken made a similar decision on December 9 to authorise the sale of nearly 14,000 tank shells, worth more than $106 million, to Israel.


UNRWA says Israel fired on aid convoy

The United Nations relief agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA) said on Friday that a convoy returning from an aid delivery to northern Gaza had been fired on by Israeli forces.

The convoy, which was traveling along a route cleared as safe by the Israeli army, was attacked on Thursday, according to Thomas White, head of UNRWA in Gaza.

"Israeli soldiers fired at an aid convoy as it returned from northern Gaza along a route designated by the Israeli army — our international convoy leader and his team were not injured but one vehicle sustained damage," White wrote on X, formerly Twitter.

Israel said that it was looking into the incident.

Earlier on Friday, 29 December, UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths detailed a series of reasons why it has been difficult to get aid to the Palestinians in Gaza who need it.

The reasons included the "three layers of inspections before trucks can even enter" Gaza, "a growing list of rejected items" and "convoys shot at," among others.

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Published: 30 Dec 2023, 8:38 AM
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