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Who is representing Israel, S. Africa in Gaza genocide case?

Who are the lawyers representing South Africa, Israel in the ICJ Gaza genocide case?
4 min read
06 January, 2024
With public hearings set to take place next week, who will be representing South Africa and Israel in the Gaza genocide case at the ICJ?
John Dugard is among the high-profile South African lawyers representing their country in the ICJ case against Israel [Andrew Cowie/AFP via Getty]

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) said earlier this week that it will hold public hearings on 11 and 12 January in proceedings launched by South Africa over Israel’s war on Gaza.

Some 23,000 people have been confirmed killed since Israel launched its war on 7 October, with thousands more missing under rubble.

Israel has conducted mass arbitrary arrests, field executions, and indiscriminate bombing during its air and ground assault on the Palestinian territory. Almost of all Gaza’s inhabitants have been displaced from their homes, and some Israeli ministers have talked about pushing the entire population out of the enclave.

South Africa had asked the ICJ last week for an urgent order declaring that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The filing has picked up support from Muslim-majority countries, including Jordan, Malaysia, and Turkey.

But which lawyers will represent South Africa and Israel in this landmark case?

South Africa

John Dugard

John Dugard is one of South Africa's foremost international law experts, and a former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Dugard is no stranger to the ICJ, having served as an ad hoc judge for the court in the 2000s.

He has previously said that apartheid carried out by Israel on Palestinians is in some respects worse than that committed on Black people in South Africa in the 20th century.

He has written several books, including Confronting Apartheid: A Personal History of South Africa, Namibia and Palestine.

Adila Hassim

The South African has been practising law for two decades, and has also served as an acting judge.

She is the co-founder and director of litigation at Section27, "a public interest law centre that advocates for access to healthcare services and basic education".

She also co-founded the anti-corruption organisation Corruption Watch which "sets out to monitor and expose acts of corruption that involve public resources and donated charitable resources in South Africa", and serves on its board. 

Tembeka Ngcukaitobi

Ngcukaitobi is a South African lawyer and legal scholar who rose to prominence in cases that helped bring down then South African President Jacob Zuma, who had been accused of wide-scale corruption.

The 47-year-old has written books on land law and land reform in South Africa.

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Max du Plessis

Du Plessis is a barrister and associate professor of law at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in Durban, South Africa.

He has appeared in leading cases on international law and human rights in South Africa's highest courts.

He has spoken at tribunals about the prohibition of apartheid by international law in the context of both South Africa and Palestine.

Other counsels

Also on the bench at The Hague will be South African lawyers Tshidiso Ramogale, Sarah Pudifin-Jones, and Lerato Zikalala.

British barrister Vaughan Lowe, and Irish barrister Blinne Ni Ghralaigh will offer external counsel.


Israeli media has reported that four lawyers will be representing Israel at the hearings. However, only one appointment appears to have been confirmed.

Malcolm Shaw

Shaw is a British academic, author, and lawyer.

The 76-year-old has "an international reputation for advising on territorial disputes", according to the Essex Court Chambers that he is part of.

Shaw has reportedly provided the Israeli government with legal advice on several occasions.

He has represented Azerbaijan, Serbia, and the United Arab Emirates in court, among other countries.


There are 15 judges at the ICJ, all from different countries. Israel and South Africa are entitled to appoint a judge each for the case.

South Africa nominated Dikgang Moseneke, a former deputy chief justice, for the position; his appointment was confirmed earlier this week by a spokesperson for the South African foreign ministry.

Israel appears to have not yet nominated a judge - although it has been widely reported that Tel Aviv was mulling nominating Alan Dershowitz for the role.

The American lawyer has been in hot water in recent days after his name appeared in newly unsealed court documents relating to the Jeffrey Epstein sex trafficking case. Dershowitz has since strongly protested his innocence.