Israel to appear at ICJ over accusation of 'genocidal acts' in Gaza

"Israel has signed the convention against genocide for decades, & we will certainly not boycott the proceeding, but stand up and repel the absurd blood plot against us," said Israel's security adviser

Israel has decided to appear at the  International Court of Justice in the hearing of a case filed by South Africa alleging "genocidal" acts in Gaza. (photo: National Herald archives)
Israel has decided to appear at the International Court of Justice in the hearing of a case filed by South Africa alleging "genocidal" acts in Gaza. (photo: National Herald archives)
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IANS

Israel has decided to appear at the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the hearing of a case filed by South Africa alleging "genocidal" acts in Gaza, local media reported.

In a report on Monday night, 1 January Israeli news website Ynet said the decision was preceded by intensive discussions in Israel by senior officials led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, reports Xinhua news agency.

"Israel has signed the convention against genocide for decades, and we will certainly not boycott the proceeding, but stand up and repel the absurd blood plot against us," Israel's national security adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told Ynet.

The ICJ, which is the UN's principal judicial organ, has confirmed South Africa's case filed on 29 December, 2023, concerning "alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide concerning Palestinians in the Gaza Strip".

Following its 84-page application to the ICJ, South Africa's presidency said in a statement that the country was obliged "to prevent genocide from occurring".

"South Africa is gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants," the BBC quoted the statement as saying.

"Furthermore, there are ongoing reports of international crimes, such as crimes against humanity and war crimes, being committed as well as reports that acts meeting the threshold of genocide or related crimes... have been and may still be committed in the context of the ongoing massacres in Gaza."

In response, spokesperson for Israel's Foreign Ministry Lior Haiat said South Africa's claim "constitutes despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the Court".

He said South Africa was "cooperating with a terrorist organisation that is calling for the destruction of the State of Israel" and said Hamas was "responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by using them as human shields and stealing humanitarian aid from them".

"Israel is committed to international law and acts in accordance with it, and directs its military efforts only against the Hamas terrorist organization and the other terrorist organizations cooperating with Hamas," Haiat said.

"Israel has made it clear that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy, and is making every effort to limit harm to the non-involved and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip."

The development comes as South Africa has been highly critical of Israel's ongoing military operation in Gaza.

In November 2023, it recalled all of its diplomats from Israel.

Israel, in turn, recalled its ambassador from Pretoria.

In addition, the South African national assembly voted to suspend all diplomatic relations with Israel, but the government has not yet formally responded to the vote.

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Published: 02 Jan 2024, 2:45 PM
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