Israel has accused South Africa of making significant misrepresentations during a hearing at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) regarding allegations of genocide.

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The country of Israel has claimed that South Africa has portrayed a heavily biased perspective of the ongoing conflict, which is almost indistinguishable from that of Hamas. This was stated during Israel’s defense at the international court of justice in The Hague, where they are facing allegations of committing genocide.

The day after South Africa claimed that it had carried out genocidal actions in Gaza, Israel responded on Friday by declaring it a “partial and deeply flawed portrayal” with intent from top government officials.

The statement asserted that Hamas is responsible for the deaths of numerous Palestinian civilians, totaling over 23,000 individuals, which accounts for about 1% of Gaza’s population. This has occurred since October 7th and has also resulted in the destruction of tens of thousands of buildings. South Africa referenced this information to support its application, stating that Hamas bears direct or indirect responsibility.

Attorneys representing Israel claimed that Hamas had caused the deaths of innocent civilians by rigging homes with explosives, placing landmines in alleyways, and accidentally firing rockets. They also argued that the militant group’s practice of using schools and hospitals for military operations was responsible for the destruction of these buildings.

Tal Becker, legal adviser for the Israeli foreign ministry, stated in his opening remarks that the plaintiff has presented a distorted and inaccurate view of the facts and legal issues at hand. The crux of this case relies on a carefully selected and altered portrayal of the current hostilities, lacking proper context and intending to manipulate the situation.

He stated that South Africa’s request for the court to issue provisional measures calling for a ceasefire was an unreasonable demand that aimed to hinder Israel’s natural right to self-defense.

According to Becker, the events on October 7th, carried out by Hamas and other violent groups, resulted in the death of approximately 1,200 individuals and the capture of 240. Becker vividly described the attacks, including disturbing information about rape and disfigurement. He also shared an audio recording of a Palestinian militant bragging to his father about killing 10 Israelis.

Becker stated that the reason for sharing this information was not to excuse Israel from following international law in its response, but rather to emphasize the importance of understanding the threat faced by Israelis in the Gaza conflict. He clarified to the court that any allegations of genocide should be directed towards Israel.

Pro-Palestinian protesters including people with red paint on their hands

While Becker was addressing the court, individuals supporting Palestine and holding flags chanted “Liar! Liar!” as they watched the proceedings on a large screen outside.

The legal representatives for Israel contested South Africa’s assertion that their political and military leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, had displayed a desire to carry out genocide, which was allegedly supported by their soldiers on the field.

Prof Malcolm Shaw stated that comments made by Netanyahu, which were brought up by South Africa on Thursday, were only a partial reference to the bible story where King Saul ordered the Israeli people to eliminate all members of the Amalekite community, including men, women, children, and animals.

He stated in court that Netanyahu’s complete statement included the phrase: “The Israeli Defense Forces are the most ethical army in the world. The IDF takes all measures to prevent harm to innocent individuals.”

Discussing additional supposed instances of violations of the genocide convention referenced by the legal representatives from South Africa, Shaw stated: “Certain remarks presented by South Africa are evidently rhetorical, uttered shortly after an incident that greatly traumatized Israel and cannot be interpreted as calling for genocide. They expressed distress and the need to regain control over Israel’s territory, which was under serious threat, and ensure the safety of its citizens.”

He stated that a thorough examination of policies and official actions since October 7th would not reveal any intention of genocide.

Dr Omri Sander stated that Israel had made significant attempts to enhance the humanitarian conditions in Gaza, but was hindered by Hamas. On the other hand, Dr Galit Raguam noted that hospitals were not targeted by bombings, but the IDF instead deployed soldiers to locate and dismantle military facilities, minimizing harm and disturbance.

Various humanitarian organizations have extensively documented the harm inflicted upon hospitals, as revealed in an investigation by The Guardian.

After the Friday hearing, Judge Joan Donoghue, the president of the court, announced that the panel of 17 judges will strive to make a prompt decision on whether provisional measures should be granted.

Attorneys from South Africa have petitioned the court on Thursday, requesting for an immediate cessation of Israeli military actions in Gaza. A ruling on this appeal is expected to be made in the coming weeks, and the entire case is anticipated to continue for several years.

Israel rejected all of the provisional measures requested by South Africa, stating that if implemented, they would benefit Hamas at the expense of Israel.

After hearing Israel’s reasoning, Ronald Lamola, the justice minister of South Africa who presented the case against Israel at the ICJ, expressed his continued belief in the strength of South Africa’s argument.

According to him, South Africa has opposed Israel’s suggestion and has condemned Hamas, urging them to release the hostages and undergo an investigation. He also stated that regardless of any actions taken by certain individuals in Palestine and Gaza and the potential threat to Israeli citizens, launching genocidal attacks on Gaza as a whole with the intent to destroy them is unjustifiable.

Germany has stated its intention to step in and support Israel, arguing that there is no valid reason to accuse Israel of genocide.

A spokesperson for the German government stated that they strongly reject the accusation of genocide against Israel that has been brought before the international court of justice.

He stated that due to the atrocities of the Holocaust and Germany’s history, the German government has a strong dedication to the (UN) genocide convention signed in 1948.

According to the court’s regulations, should Germany submit a declaration of intervention in the case, they would have the right to present legal arguments on behalf of Israel.

In 1948, a convention was established following the widespread killing of Jews during the Nazi Holocaust. This convention defines genocide as intentional acts that aim to annihilate a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group either entirely or partially. While the decisions made by the ICJ are ultimate and cannot be appealed, the court lacks the means to enforce them.


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