ICJ hears South Africa’s case against Israel

President Donoghue (2nd R) and other judges at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at the hearing of the genocide case against Israel brought by South Africa. According to South Africa, Israel is currently committing genocidal acts against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

The global community waits in anticipation as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings into South Africa’s case against Israel over genocidal acts in Gaza are set to start on Thursday.

Follow IOL’s live coverage of the hearings at The Hague here.

South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice

13h28: Irish lawyer Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh KC: “I want to address urgency and risk of irreparable harm on Palestinian people.This has been described as a crisis of humanity.

“Famine is around the corner. Gaza has become inhabitable.

“Entire multi-generational families will be obliterated. The children will eventually become WCNSF – wounded child, no surviving family – the terrifying new acronym that came out of this.

SA vs Israel: ICJ hears how Israel has genocidal intent and how widespread genocidal utterances are

Oral observations at the International Court of Justice sitting at Peace Palace heard from South Africa’s legal team on Thursday.

Among several of the legal team, the ICJ also heard from Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC, who addressed the matter of Israel’s genocidal intent.

Read the full story here.

13h00: The sitting has resumed. Professor Max du Plessis SC has taken the stand. He will focus on the nature of rights SA seeks to preserve through its application.

Du Plessis says Palestinians in Gaza simply but profoundly have the right to exist.

This application, brought by South Africa, was brought in a particular context, he says.

“It is not correctly framed as a simple conflict between two parties.”

Du Plessis says it entails destructive acts perpetrated by an occupying power – Israel – for more than half a century. “Israel for years has regarded itself as above and beyond the law.

“The rights are immediately and urgently in need of protection because of the ongoing denial by Israel of the conditions necessary for life.”

Du Plessis says the acts by Israel are at the very least “plausibly genocidal”.

He tells the court that South Africa has an obligation to prevent genocide.

Du Plessis says South Africa’s application was motivated by the need to protect Palestinians in Gaza and their absolute rights not to be subjected to genocidal acts.

Du Plessis says the events unfolding in Gaza are frighteningly unprecedented.

South Africa requests this court to discharge that “critical and protective power”.

He tells the court that the provisional measures sought therefore ensure the protection of rights that may inform the basis of a judgment in due course.
Israel’s attack on Gaza is ‘deliberately calculated’, says SA as it makes its case at World Court

South Africa’s Adila Hassim SC, who was the first lawyer to address the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday in the groundbreaking case against Israel, told the court how Israel’s attack on the Palestinian people in Gaza was “deliberately calculated”.

In a historic move, South Africa launched a case last month at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Israel for what it said were “genocidal” acts in Gaza, seeking an emergency suspension of its military campaign.

Read the full story here.

12h35: Professor John Dugard has completed his address. President Joan Donoghue has adjourned the court for a 10-minute coffee break.

12h21: Professor John Dugard is now on the stand addressing the ICJ judges on its jurisdiction to hear the case.

Prof Dugard strongly believes that what Israel is doing to Gaza amounts to genocide.

He tells the court that South Africa sent a verbal note to Israel condemning the attacks on Gaza in October but Israel “persisted in its genocidal actions”.

11h56: Tembeka Ngcukaitobi continues South Africa’s argument.

“Their (Israel’s) genocidal intent is rooted in the belief that the enemy is not just Hamas but the Gazans Palestinians in every day life.

“Their intent to destroy Gaza has reached the highest levels of state,” Ngcukaitobi says.

“Amalek is being used to justify the killing of everyone including children.

“This is a Nakba that will overshadow the Nakba of 1948.

“Israel has full awareness on it actions. Right from the beginning, Israel knew it was depriving Palestinians of food, water, healthcare and other essential needs,” Ngcukaitobi said.

11h52: Adila Hassim SC: Israel’s conduct is “deliberately calculated” to cause widespread hunger, dehydration and starvation.

Hassim says just three days ago, a planned mission by UN to provide aid was denied by Israeli forces. This marked the fifth denial of aid.

Hassim shows a distressing short video of an aid truck arriving in Gaza that has been overtaken by the desperate Palestinians. She says the few aid trucks that are allowed in “are simply not allowed”.

11h49: In addressing the court, Adila Hassim SC does not mince her words in the impact of Israel’s attack on Palestinian lives in Gaza.

Hassim says: “In the first three weeks alone following October 7, Israel deployed 6,000 bombs per week. At least 200 times, it deployed 2,000 pound bombs in southern areas of Palestine designated as safe.

“2,000 pound bombs are some of the biggest and most lethal.

“Israel has killed an unparalleled and unprecedented amount of civilians. More than 1,800 families in Gaza have lost multiple members of their family and hundreds of generations of families have been wiped out. This killing is nothing short of destruction of Palestinian life. No one is spared, not even newborn babies.”

Israel has deliberately imposed conditions on Gaza that cannot sustain life.

She points to four ways in which Israel achieves this: First by displacement. There is nowhere safe for them to flee to, Hassim says. Those who refuse to be displaced have been killed.

Israel’s first evacuation order on October 13 required the evacuation of about 13 million people. Entire hospitals were required to evacuate including newborn babies in intensive care. The order itself was genocidal, Hassim says.

“It required immediate movement taking only what could be carried while no humanitarian assistance was permitted and fuel, water and food and other necessities of life were deliberately cut off.”

SA vs Israel: No attack can provide justification to breach of genocide convention, says Lamola

Oral observations at the International Court of Justice sitting at Peace Palace heard from South Africa’s legal team on Thursday.

Justice Minister Ronald Lamola made opening remarks.

Read the full story here.

11h37: Adila Hassim SC says in oral submission, South Africa will illustrate the facts with limited use of audio-visual material. SA will only do so if absolutely necessary and with respect to the Palestinian people.

The first genocidal act committed by Israel is the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza, says Hassim.

The level of Israel’s killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe.

Hassim says that as of now, 23,210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. At least 70% are believed to be women and children. Some 7,000 Palestinians are still missing, presumed dead under the rubble.

11h30: Adila Hassim SC from South Africa has taken the stand. She will be talking about the genocidal acts that have led to this case.

SA contends that Israel have committed actions that constitute as genocide.

Placing it into context, Hassim refers to a map of Gaza displayed for all in court. Entry and exit by air and sea to Gaza is prohibited with Israel operating the only two entry and exit points.

“For the past 96 days, Israel has subjected Gaza to what has been described as one of the heaviest conventional bombing campaigns in the history of modern warfare. Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israeli weaponry and bombs from air, land and sea. They are also at immediate risk of death by starvation, dehydration and disease as a result of the ongoing deige of Israel, destruction of Palestinian towns, the insufficient aid being allowed through to the Palestinian population and the possibility of distributing this limited aid while bombs fall.”

At this provisional stage, Hassim says it’s not necessary for the court to come to a final view of the question on whether Israel’s conduct constitutes genocide. She says it’s only necessary to decide whether at least some of the acts alleged are capable of falling within the provisions of the convention..

11h24: Justice Minister Ronald Lamola presents his remarks at the Peace Palace in the International Court of Justice hearing.

“This is our commitment to Palestine,” Lamola said. “As previously mentioned, this violence and destruction did not start at October 7 . They have experienced it for 76 years. Israel continues to exercise control over everything, such as power infrastructure and key government functions. South Africa unequivocally condemns taking of hostages and Hamas attack but no armed attack can provide justification to breach of Genocide Convention. Israel’s retaliation has breached this.”

11h11: Judge Moseneke and Judge Aharon Barack for Israel have made their solemn declarations prescribed by the statute.

11h10: The International Court of Justice is now in session. ICJ judges have taken their seats and court has commenced. ICJ President Judge Joan Donoghue is now reading a brief career summary of South African Judge Dikgang Moseneke before he takes his declaration.
SA vs Israel: SA ambassadors weigh in on ICJ case

South African ambassadors have weighed in on the South Africa’s case of genocide against Israel sitting at International Court of Justice.

This comes after South Africa launched a case last month at the ICJ against Israel for what it said were “genocidal” acts in Gaza, seeking an emergency suspension of military activities.

Read the full story here.
ICJ set to hear SA’s case against Israel: What to expect in the coming days

The ICJ application related to alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Genocide Convention, and said that “Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”

It is worth noting that these are the hearings and not the final judgment.

Click here to read what can we expect from Thursday and Friday’s hearings.
What is the International Court of Justice, who are the judges and how does the court work? Here’s everything you need to know

On December 29, 2023, the Republic of South Africa instituted proceedings against the State of Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concerning alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in relation to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and requested the ICJ to indicate provisional measures.

But, why the ICJ? Who are the members of the ICJ and how does the court work?

Read the full story here.
WATCH: Palestinians sing the South African national anthem in Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah, Palestine.

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Ramaphosa pays tribute to over 100 journalists killed in Gaza ahead of ICJ genocide case

President Cyril Ramaphosa has paid homage to over 100 journalists killed in Gaza in Israeli airstrikes since the conflict started in October last year.

Ramaphosa paid tribute to the journalists as a delegation of experienced human rights and international law advocates were preparing for South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague.

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