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South Africa Lodges Genocide Complaint Against Israel

South Africa Lodges Genocide Complaint Against Israel

South Africa has urged the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an urgent declaration stating that Israel has violated its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention in its actions against the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza. The ICJ, also known as the World Court, serves as the United Nations venue for resolving state disputes. Israel’s foreign ministry dismissed the lawsuit as “baseless.” South Africa’s filing claimed that Israel was breaching its commitments under the genocide treaty, which criminalizes attempts to destroy a people, either wholly or in part.

The filing requested the ICJ to issue provisional measures mandating Israel to cease its military campaign in Gaza, citing the need to protect the rights of the Palestinian people from further harm. A date for a hearing has not been set. The ICJ’s rulings, while considered the highest court under the United Nations, are sometimes disregarded. In March 2022, the court ordered Russia to immediately halt its military actions in Ukraine, a decision that Russia did not comply with. The current conflict began on October 7 when the Palestinian group Hamas initiated a cross-border attack on Israel, killing 1,200 people and seizing 240 hostages. In response, Israel launched an offensive in Gaza, controlled by Hamas, resulting in over 21,000 casualties according to Palestinian health officials.

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Israel’s foreign ministry, in its initial response to South Africa’s lawsuit, attributed the suffering of Palestinians in Gaza to Hamas, accusing the group of using them as human shields and misappropriating humanitarian aid. Hamas denies these allegations.