South Africa files GENOCIDE case against Israel: here’s what you need to know
01/14/2024 // Ethan Huff // Views

In response to South Africa's accusation that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Hague is holding hearings to make an official determination.

As of this writing, Israel has massacred more than 23,000 Palestinians, including more than 9,000 children. This is in response to the October 7 Hamas attack that resulted in around 1,140 Israeli deaths, some of which were caused by Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

South Africa called for an emergency order against Israel to suspend its military Campaign, having filed a lawsuit in late December that cited admissions made by Israeli public officials concerning the actions of the Jewish state's military.

It is worth noting that this is the first time Israel has ever been tried under the United Nation's (UN) Genocide Convention, which was drafted after World War II in light of the atrocities committed against Jews and other persecuted groups during the Holocaust.

"While any ruling is unenforceable, a ruling against Israel carries enormous symbolic significance," notes Middle East Eye about the events that are now transpiring.

(Related: Did you catch the news about Israel's "torture camp" where it abused Gaza civilians?)

Israel plays "antisemitic" card against South Africa

In case you are unfamiliar with it, the ICJ is the UN's top court. It was established in 1945, just three years before the rebirth of Israel, to deal with disputes between countries, providing advisory opinions on various matters.

The ICJ has 15 judges who are elected by the UN General Assembly and Security Council to serve nine-year terms. The size of the court can also be expanded with the addition of a judge from each side of a case, in this case by South Africa and Israel.

"South Africa has appointed Dikgang Moseneke, the country's former deputy chief justice, and Israel has named Aharon Barak, ex-president of the country's Supreme Court," reports explain.

"The current judges at the ICJ are from the U.S.; Russia; China; Slovakia; Morocco; Lebanon; India; France; Somalia; Jamaica; Japan; Germany; Australia; Uganda; and Brazil."

The 84-page case filed by South Africa against Israel claims that the Jewish state's actions in Gaza are "genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group." Israel, of course, denies this, calling it "blood libel," this being a reference to "antisemitic lies that originated in the Middle Ages, which claimed that Jews murdered Christian boys to use their blood for religious rituals."

"Against a background of apartheid, expulsion, ethnic cleansing, annexation, occupation, discrimination, and the ongoing denial of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, Israel, since 7 October 2023 in particular, has failed to prevent genocide," South Africa's application states.

While the ICJ is not supposed to be political, in practice it often is. Academic research shows that in about 90 percent of cases, judges "vote for their home states," regardless of what the facts show.

Many wonder why South Africa and not one of the many Arab states that surrounds Israel has chosen to file such a complaint. The reason is because when Israel first accepted jurisdiction from the ICJ, it stated that it would not comply with applications from states that do not "recognize Israel or which refuses to establish or to maintain normal diplomatic relations with Israel."

Just one Arab country, Jordan, has backed the ICJ petition by South Africa. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a 57-member block that includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, and Morocco, also voiced its support for the case back on December 30.

The latest news about Israel's war on Gaza can be found at

Sources for this article include:

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