Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a cabinet meeting at the Kirya military base, which houses the Israeli Ministry of Defence, in Tel Aviv on December 24, 2023. (Photo by Ohad Zwigenberg / POOL / AFP)
(AFP) – The UN’s top court will hear submissions next week from South Africa and Israel after Pretoria opened a case for what it called Israel‘s “genocidal” acts in Gaza.
South Africa wants to International Court of Justice to urgently order Israel to suspend its military operations in Gaza, in a case which Israel rejected “with disgust.”
The ICJ “will hold public hearings at the Peace Palace in The Hague… in proceedings instituted by South Africa against Israel,” on Thursday 11 and Friday 12 January, the court said in a statement.
The South African application, filed last Friday, related to alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Genocide Convention, saying that “Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza.”
Israel rejected the charge, with Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat writing on X, formerly Twitter: “Israel rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa and its application” to the ICJ.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu added Israel displayed “unparalleled morality” in the Gaza war as he too dismissed South Africa’s charge.
South Africa, amongst other urgent measures, is asking the court to order that “Israel shall immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza” and that both countries “take all reasonable measures within their power to prevent genocide.”
Israel launched a relentless military campaign against Hamas in the Gaza Strip after the Palestinian militants carried out an unprecedented attack on southern Israel on October 7.
The militants’ attack left about 1,140 people dead, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.
Israel‘s ongoing Gaza offensive has killed more than 22,300 people, mostly women and children, according to the health ministry in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
South Africa will present its arguments on Thursday of next week, while Israel is set to counter on Friday.
A ruling by the ICJ on the request for emergency measures is expected to follow within weeks, but the case proper could still take months, or even years.
Set up after World War II, the ICJ is the UN’s highest legal body and rules in disputes between countries.
Decisions are legally binding, but the court has little power to enforce them.
© Agence France-Presse