ICJ hears Israel’s defence against South Africa’s genocide claims

President Donoghue (M) attending the International Court of Justice (ICJ) prior to the hearing of the genocide case against Israel, brought by South Africa. According to the South Africans, Israel is currently committing genocidal acts against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

It’s day two of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearing into claims of genocide brought by South Africa against Israel.

12h50: The sitting has resumed. Galit Raguan has taken the stand.

Raguan says Gaza’s infrastructure has certainly been harmed in the conflict but it was not evidence of genocide. The allegations that Israel levelled an assault on Gaza’s medical stations does not include Hamas’ use of those hospitals.

Raguan claims that SA failed to show the extent to which Hamas uses civilian infrastructure for military purposes, including using hospitals as a shield for their military purposes.

Raguan says while damage has occurred sometimes by Israeli Defence Force and sometimes by Hamas “but always as a direct result of Hamas’ abhorrent method of warfare”.

Raguan tells the court that Hamas’ strategy includes turning hospitals into terrorist compounds. She says Hamas has regularly and deliberately fired from “safe and humanitarian zones”.

Raguan accuses Hamas of using the civilians as shields. She says Hamas has even attacked IDF forces securing humanitarian zones.

Raguan says IDF has “dropped millions of leaflets” over areas of expected attacks with instructions to evacuate and how to do so, broadcast over radio and made over 7,000 telephone calls warning civilians of attacks.

Raguan says there is no question that millions of citizens are suffering in Gaza. She says the IDF is seeking to minimise civilian harm but Hamas is using every way to use Gaza infrastructure and civilians as shields.

She says the charge of genocide in the face of “these extensive efforts” is untenable. Raguan says it’s an “inconvenient truth” for South Africa’s case.

SA vs Israel: The attack on October 7 was the real genocide, says Israel legal team

Israel’s lead counsel Malcolm Shaw was one several representatives of Israel’s legal team to take the stand on Friday in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) genocide hearing against them.

Israel takes the stand at ICJ, says it has ‘inherent right’ to defend its citizens

The legal team for the State of Israel took the stand at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), to counter South Africa’s genocide allegations in The Hague on Friday.

Tal Becker, Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, told the court that Israel was defending itself in a war “it did not start nor want” and South Africa’s request to indicate a provisional measure to suspend its military operation amounted to an attempt to deny Israel its ability to meet its obligation to defend its citizens.

11h37: Israel’s lead counsel Malcolm Shaw is going to argue prima facie jurisdiction over the rights that South Africa’s request seeks to protect.

Shaw calls the October 7 attack “the real genocide in this situation”.

“Israel has the right to defend itself in line with humanitarian law.”

Shaw’s arguments are currently focused on proving there is no “dispute” between Israel and South Africa regarding the Genocide Convention, instead calling it a “unispute”.

“I’ve lost a page.” – Shaw chuckles, shuffling his papers.

“It is not easy to determine whether a prima facie case exists. There has to be something tangible in the provisions in question,” Shaw says.

The actions of a IDF solider cannot reflect policy, says Shaw after South Africa on Thursday argued that IDF soliders are taking orders in terms of genocidal intent.

Shaw reiterates that the attacks are for Hamas and not civilians.

Shaw speaks briefly on the ‘Amalek’ reference: “There is no need here for a theological discussion that was misunderstood by South Africa,” and explains how the statement by the Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu was clearly in reference to Hamas.
A screenshot from Malcolm Shaw’s presentation to the ICJ.

He reiterates that October 7 was the “real genocide”, by saying “if there is any genocidal intent, it is the events of October 7”.

Israel’s Legal Counselor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Tal Becker, lawyer Malcolm Shaw, and Gilad Noam, Deputy Attorney-General for International Affairs, attend the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Picture: Remko de Waal / ANP / AFP

11h07: Day 2 at the International Court of Justice in The Hague has begun. Today, we hear the Israeli State’s case. First on the stand is Israel’s co-agent Tal Becker addressing the court.

Becker tells the court that given the Jewish peoples history, it’s not surprising why Israel was one of the first to sign the Genocide Convention.

He says this is a war where Israel is defending itself against Hamas, Palestinian Jihad and other terrorist groups.

“The civilians suffering in this war, like all wars, is tragic and heartbreaking,” he says.

Becker says Israel is defending itself in a war it did not start or want.

Becker, on behalf of Israel, tells the court that South Africa has put before the court a profoundly distorted factual an legal picture. The entirely of its case hinges on a deliberately curated, decontextualised and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities.
Tal Becker, Legal Counselor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Israel, at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) prior to the hearing of the genocide case against Israel, brought by South Africa. Picture: Remko de Waal / ANP MAG / ANP via AFP

Becker talks about the Hamas attack on October 7. He says over 20 Israeli spaces were invaded describing the attack as “wholesale massacre, mutilation, rape and abduction” of as many Israeli citizens. Becker reports that 1200 people were butchered that day, more than 5500 maimed and 240 hostages abducted including infants, entire families and holocaust survivors.

Some of the surviving families of those who were attacked on that day are present in the The Hague currently, Becker says.

Becker, who is delivering the opening remarks of the Israeli State’s case at the ICJ, says Israel has the inherent right to take all legitimate measures to defend its citizens and secure the release of the hostages taken in the October 7 attack.

He says South Africa’s request to indicate a provisional measure to suspend its military operation amounts to an attempt to deny Israel its ability to meet its obligation to defend its citizens.

Becker now accuses South Africa of enjoying close relations with Hamas. He says these relations continued unabated even after October 7.

A slideshow of images of hostages and those attacked by Hamas was played in the ICJ. Becker says South Africa has treated these hostages as an “afterthought”.
The Government of the State of Israel is represented by:

Mr Gilad Noam, Deputy Attorney General for International Law, Ministry of Justice of the State of Israel,

Mr Tal Becker, Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel,

Ms Tamar Kaplan Tourgeman, Principal Deputy Legal Adviser of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, as Co-Agents;

Ms Avigail Frisch Ben Avraham, Legal Adviser, Embassy of Israel in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as Deputy Agent;

HE Mr Modi Moshe Ephraim, Ambassador of the State of Israel to the Kingdom of the Netherlands,

Mr Yaron Wax, Deputy Head of Mission, Embassy of Israel in the Kingdom of the Netherlands, as National Authorities;

Mr Malcolm Shaw, KC, Emeritus Sir Robert Jennings Professor of International Law, University of Leicester; associate member of the Institut de droit international, member of the Bar of England and Wales,

Mr Christopher Staker, 39 Essex Chambers, member of the Bar of England and Wales,

Mr Omri Sender, Attorney at Law, S. Horowitz & Co, Tel Aviv,

Mr Galit Raguan, Director of the International Justice Division, Office of the Deputy Attorney General for International Law, Ministry of Justice of the State of Israel, as Counsel and Advocates;

Mr Eyal Benvenisti, Whewell Professor of International Law, University of Cambridge, Fellow and former Director, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, member of the Institut de droit international and of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities,

Mr Daniel Geron, Senior Director of Global Justice Policy, National Security Council, Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel,

Mr Amit Heumann, Director of the International Law Department, Office of the Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel,

Mr Eyal Benvenisti, Whewell Professor of International Law, University of Cambridge, Fellow and former Director, Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, member of the Institut de droit international and of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities,

Mr Daniel Geron, Senior Director of Global Justice Policy, National Security Council, Office of the Prime Minister of the State of Israel,

Mr Amit Heumann, Director of the International Law Department, Office of the Legal Adviser, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, as Counsel.

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