Palestinian rights groups welcome South Africa's ICJ genocide case against Israel

Palestinian rights groups welcome South Africa's ICJ genocide case against Israel
South Africa filed a case at the International Court of Justice that argued Israel was engaging in 'genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza'.
2 min read
30 December, 2023
The International Court of Justice is the UN's highest court [Amith Nag Photography/Getty-file photo]

Three Palestinian rights groups have "warmly welcomed" South Africa's lodging of a case alleging Israel is perpetrating genocide in Gaza to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Al-Haq, Al Mezan, and the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) also urged the ICJ, the UN's highest court, to expedite the proceedings given the "critical situation" in the strip.

Pretoria filed its case – which argued that Israel was engaging in "genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza" – on Friday.

"This principled move stands as a testament to South Africa's unyielding commitment to human rights, justice, and accountability, as it further serves as a beacon of hope for the restoration of the international legal order," the three Palestinian rights groups said in a statement.

"We, Palestinian civil society organisations, have, as early as 13 October 2023, warned and urged states to intervene to protect the Palestinian people against impending genocide.

"Since then, Israel's intent has only become more pronounced, marked by both explicit genocidal statements and genocidal acts committed by the Israeli military."

It came amid Israel's war on Gaza, which has so far killed 21,672 people, according to the enclave's health ministry.

The Palestinian rights groups, though welcoming of South Africa's legal case, were critical of other countries.

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"While we commend South Africa, we must also confront the undeniable truth that some third states have not only failed to uphold international law and their legal obligations, including their obligation to end the commission of the crime of genocide, but have shamelessly been complicit in perpetuating injustice, including by publicly objecting to a ceasefire, and continuing to supply Israel with military equipment," they said.

"South Africa's decisive action should serve as more than a wake-up call; it demands that all Third States rigorously reassess their commitment to international law and human rights."

Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat responded to South Africa's decision to file its case with the ICJ by saying Israel is committed to and acts in compliance with international law.

He said on social media platform X that his country "reacts with disgust" at what he called the "blood libel spread by South Africa in its application" to the court.

"South Africa's claim lacks both a factual and a legal basis, and constitutes a despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the court," he added.

Haiat said Israel calls on the ICJ and international community to "completely reject" Pretoria's "baseless claims".