Taking Israel to ICJ

By: Dr Moonis Ahmar

It was South Africa’s determination to prove Israel guilty of genocide in Gaza that it approached the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. While rejecting the allegations of genocide, Tel Aviv failed to convince not only the ICJ but also the international community that since October 7, 2023, Israeli forces have killed more than 25,000 Palestinians, including women and children, in Gaza and Occupied West Bank. On December 29, 2023, South Africa filed a complaint against Israel, accusing it of violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

What is genocide and how the Benjamin Netanyahu regime, under the pretext of Hamas’s October 7 attack, used colossal force to avenge the killing of 1,200 people and abduction of 250. Israel conducted relentless air and ground attacks on the beleaguered Palestinian population of Gaza by razing hundreds of buildings to ground and rendering millions homeless. Disregarding repeated calls for ceasefire, Israel sustained its brutal attacks on Gaza till the time Hamas is liquidated.

Realising that Israel will not bend and continue with ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, South Africa approached the ICJ and submitted the case of genocide in Gaza. Several years ago, ICJ also heard the case of genocide by Serbian forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina and awarded punishment to those responsible for their heinous crimes against humanity.

According to Key Concepts In International Relations by Martin Griffiths and Terry O’ Callaghan, genocide means, “an endeavor to eradicate a people because of their nationality, race, ethnicity, or religion. The term derives from the Greek word genos, which means race or tribe, and the Latin word cide, which means to kill.” Acts of genocide have taken place in different parts of the world with a similar motive to punish a particular race by attacking its honour and massacring its people. The last case of genocide prior to the Israeli killings in Gaza was by the military of Myanmar against Muslim Rohingyas. Genocide is a well-crafted policy by a particular state to punish a community by systematic killings and rapes.

According to The Wire Sapan news service, dated January 17, “what Israel now fears above all is that the court will take ‘provisional measures’, possibly as early as January, requiring Israel to stop the military operation in the Gaza Strip. This is to protect the rights of the parties while the case is before the court, in the terminology of the court’s statute”.

Israel’s shameful justification of its military assault on Gaza going on since October 7 got sanctioned by its President, Isaac Herzog, who said at a press conference the other day that “there are no innocent civilians living in Gaza: The entire nation is responsible.” Furthermore, Prime Minister Netanyahu “menacingly referred to the Jewish revenge against the Amalek tribe, about which the Bible says: “Spare no one, kill both men and women, children and infants, camels and donkeys.” According to The Wire, “Israel’s response at the Hague on January 12 was that its army had not translated such statements into a genocidal approach. The trauma of the October 7 massacre by Hamas, Israeli counselors said, has caused some individuals to make extreme or even ‘obscene’ statements. However, these do not reflect the policies of Netanyahu’s war cabinet. That policy, they said, is aimed at preventing civilian deaths as much as possible. The Israelis used a significant part of their time — with photos and videos — to outline the atrocities committed by Hamas on October 7: Murder, rape, mutilation and kidnapping, including of children. Israel has, they said, the right to defend itself against it.”

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