January 11, World (LNW): South Africa has initiated a landmark case against Israel, accusing it of genocide in the Gaza Strip, as the International Court of Justice (ICJ) begins two days of public hearings.
This case was filed on December 29 and marks the first at the ICJ related to the siege on Gaza, where over 23,000 individuals, including nearly 10,000 children, have lost their lives since October 7.
South Africa contends that Israel’s actions, including the killing of civilians, mass expulsion and displacement of Palestinians, and destruction of homes, constitute genocide, in breach of the 1948 UN Genocide Convention.
The suit also alleges that Israel’s blockade on food and destruction of essential health services for Palestinians are intentional measures aimed at their destruction as a group.
South Africa, a party to the Genocide Convention along with Israel, argues that countries party to the treaty collectively have the right to prevent and stop such crimes.
Israel denies the allegations and vows to defend itself. The ICJ, focusing on legal disputes between states, will first determine its jurisdiction in the case during the preliminary hearings.
The full judgment on whether Israel committed genocide is expected to take years.
The case sets a precedent as it deals with the Gaza siege and has implications for similar international disputes.