Friday, July 12, 2024

South Africa sues Israel at UN top court: What you need to know

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Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi
Isaac Kaledzi is an experienced and award winning journalist from Ghana. He has worked for several media brands both in Ghana and on the International scene. Isaac Kaledzi is currently serving as an African Correspondent for DW.

South Africa has filed a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) seeking a declaration that Israel has committed genocide against Palestine.

The case filed on Friday is the latest move by South Africa, an ally of Palestine to bring attention to Israel’s crackdown against the Palestinian group Hamas in Gaza.

South Africa said Israel action is in breach of its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The ICJ, sometimes known as the World Court, is the United Nations venue for resolving disputes between states.

South Africa said in its filing that Israel is violating its obligations under the treaty, drafted in the wake of the Holocaust.

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That treaty makes it a crime to attempt to destroy a people in whole or in part. South Africa wants the court to order Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza.

Israel’s foreign ministry has described the suit was “baseless.” It said the crackdown on Gaza was “necessary in this case to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people.”

“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,” the ministry statement said.

Palestine has welcomed South Africa’s suit. “The court must immediately take action to protect the Palestinian people and call on Israel, the occupying power, to halt its onslaught,” the Palestinian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

No date has been set for a hearing. It is not often that rulings by the ICJ in The Hague is respected by nations.

The crackdown on Gaza by Israel began on Oct. 7 when militants of the Islamist group Hamas killed 1,200 people in a cross-border attack on Israel and seized 240 hostages by Israel’s count.

Israel responded with an assault on Hamas-ruled Gaza, killing more than 21,000 people, Palestinian health officials say.

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