‘Blood libel’: Israel slams South Africa for filing ICJ genocide motion over Gaza war

Pretoria bids for an order declaring Israel in breach of 1948 Genocide Convention; Jerusalem accuses South Africa of ‘collaborating with terror group’ that seeks Israel’s destruction

File: This photo shows an exterior view of the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands on February 18, 2019. (AP/Peter Dejong)
File: This photo shows an exterior view of the Peace Palace, which houses the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands on February 18, 2019. (AP/Peter Dejong)

Israel castigated South Africa on Friday for turning to the International Court of Justice with an urgent application for an order declaring that Jerusalem was violating its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention in its war against Hamas following the Gaza-ruling terrorist group’s murderous October 7 onslaught.

Israel said Pretoria’s accusations were “baseless “and a “blood libel.”

South Africa’s application to the Hague-based court charges that IDF operations against Hamas “are genocidal in character, as they are committed with the requisite specific intent… to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”

“The conduct of Israel… in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, is in violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention,” the application claimed.

In response, Israel said it rejected “with contempt the blood libel by South Africa in its application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

“South Africa’s claim has no factual and judicial basis and is a despicable and cheap exploitation of the court,” the Israeli Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “South Africa is collaborating with a terror group that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel.”

The ministry blamed Hamas for the suffering of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, saying it had attempted “to carry out genocide” on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists from the Strip invaded southern Israel, slaughtered about 1,200 people, and seized around 240 hostages.

The Foreign Ministry also stressed that Israeli military operations in Gaza are directed against Hamas and other terror factions, adding that “Israel has clarified that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy.”

“We call on the International Court of Justice and the international community to reject the baseless claims of South Africa out of hand,” the statement said.

While the ICJ in The Hague is considered the United Nations’ highest court, its rulings are sometimes ignored. In March 2022 the court ordered Russia to immediately halt its military campaign in Ukraine.

The war against Hamas was triggered by the Palestinian terror group’s shock attack on Israel almost three months ago, when terrorists blasted through the Gaza border fence and rampaged for hours through some 20 communities and an outdoor music festival, killing 1,200 people, mostly civilians, amid widespread atrocities including the systemic use of sexual violence, rape and mutilation of the dead and the living. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 360 were slaughtered at the Supernova music festival.

The unprecedented attack was highlighted by US President Joe Biden as “the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”

Israel declared war on Hamas and has vowed to destroy the terror group and eliminate it as a security threat.

In its motion to the ICJ, South Africa asked the court to issue provisional, or short-term, measures ordering Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza, which it said were “necessary in this case to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people.”

The Foreign Ministry said: “Israel has made it clear that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy, and is making every effort to limit harm to the non-involved and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip.”

The court application is the latest move by South Africa, a vociferous critic of Israel, to ratchet up pressure after its lawmakers last month voted in favor of closing down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspending all diplomatic relations until a ceasefire was reached in the war. These moves have not yet been finalized.

In a statement from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the government said the application against Israel was filed on Friday.

“Israel, since 7 October 2023 in particular, has failed to prevent genocide and has failed to prosecute the direct and public incitement to genocide,” DIRCO said in a statement.

No date has been set for a hearing.

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