Netanyahu: Case at The Hague shows 'world turned upside down'

Israel seethes after genocide hearing; PM: South Africa representing Hamas monsters

Foreign Ministry also says South Africa ‘functioning as the legal arm of Hamas’; opposition leader says ‘integrity of the international community’ is on trial in The Hague

Protesters wave Israeli flags and hold photos of the hostages kidnapped during the murderous October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, during a demonstration outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, January 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)
Protesters wave Israeli flags and hold photos of the hostages kidnapped during the murderous October 7 Hamas attack on Israel, during a demonstration outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, January 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Israeli officials reacted with rage and indignation to South Africa’s presentation of its accusations of genocide against Jerusalem at the International Court of Justice Thursday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced Pretoria for “representing monsters” in Hamas and “accusing Israel of genocide as it fights against genocide.”

South Africa’s case at The Hague is evidence of a “world turned upside down,” the prime minister said in a video statement. “A terror organization carries out the worst crime against the Jewish people since the Holocaust, and now someone comes along to defend them in the name of the Holocaust… What brazenness.”

“South Africa’s hypocrisy cries out from the heavens,” he added. “Where were you, South Africa, when millions of people were killed or displaced from their homes in Syria and Yemen, and by whom? By Hamas’s partners.”

South Africa is alleging that the Jewish state is perpetrating genocide against Palestinians in Gaza during the IDF’s ongoing war against Hamas, in what the court was told is a deliberate effort to destroy life in the Strip.

Israel has vehemently rejected the accusations, saying it is engaged in a war of self-defense in the small territory that is home to over two million people, and is making efforts to avoid harm to civilians.

Pretoria presented its charges on Thursday, and Israel will respond on Friday.

The Foreign Ministry called the case “one of the greatest shows of hypocrisy in history” in a post on X.

Spokesman Lior Haiat charged that Pretoria was “functioning as the legal arm of the Hamas terrorist organization” and “completely ignored the fact that Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, murdered, executed, massacred, raped and abducted Israeli citizens, simply because they were Israelis, in an attempt to carry out genocide.”

In his tweet, Haiat said that South Africa “seeks to allow Hamas to return to commit the war crimes, crimes against humanity and sexual crimes they committed repeatedly on October 7.”

Opposition Leader Yair Lapid slammed South Africa, joining a flood of criticism for the proceedings from Israel and the Jewish world.

In a video statement posted on X, Lapid said, “It is not Israel that is on trial today, but the integrity of the international community. If a country that protects itself from a brutal murderous terrorist attack can find itself in court for genocide, then the genocide convention has become a reward for terrorism and antisemitism.”

Referring to Hamas’s October 7 massacre, Lapid said, “Instead of the murderers being put on trial, the world is judging the murdered.”

War erupted after October 7, when some 3,000 Hamas terrorists burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,200 people and seizing over 240 hostages, mostly civilians, many amid documented acts of brutality.

Vowing to destroy the terror group, Israel launched a wide-scale military campaign in Gaza, which the Hamas-run health ministry has said killed over 23,000 people since. These figures cannot be independently verified, and are believed to include both civilians and Hamas members killed in Gaza, including as a consequence of terror groups’ own rocket misfires. The IDF says it has killed over 8,500 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Israel says it is targeting Hamas, while the terror group purposely operates from within the civilian population.

The thrust of the South African argument presented in the ICJ on Thursday brings together the heavy death toll of Palestinian civilians; the widespread damage caused to civilian infrastructure; the severely limited access Gazans have to food, water, medical supplies and medical treatment; and the restrictions on the entry of fuel into the territory.

In other Israeli reactions, former prime minister Naftali Bennett called the hearings “the Dreyfus affair of the 21st century,” referencing the infamous antisemitic prosecution of a Jewish officer in France over 100 years ago. “This is a shameful display [of] hypocrisy and blatant antisemitism,” he added.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir also referenced Jewish history in his response, lamenting: “Seventy-eight years after the terrible Holocaust visited upon us by the German Nazis and three months after the Nazis from Gaza added to the massacres — the world is joining in… and spreading blood libels against Israel.”

“Never before have so many miscreants taken part in such vile lies,” he said.

The South African Jewish community also voiced support for Israel in the face of the genocide claims. “South Africa’s double-speak and double-standards is also evident with dogged determination to remain neutral and `talk to both’ sides in the Russia-Ukraine war. Yet, with Israel it has taken constant punitive action, including refusing to offer condolences to Israel after the 7 October massacre, closing the South African embassy, issuing a demarche to the Israeli ambassador and now taking Israel to the ICJ,” the South African Jewish Board of Deputies said in a statement after the hearing.

“Hamas started this war. Hamas can end it. South Africa could play a role in facilitating this,” the statement added.

British jurist Malcolm Shaw, right, and legal adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry Tal Becker, left, look on during the opening of the hearings at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, January 11, 2024. (AP Photo/Patrick Post)

Economy Minister Nir Barkat posted on X after a meeting with German Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck in Jerusalem earlier on Thursday, “Instead of starting proceedings against Hamas, the hypocritical court in The Hague is charging Israel with false allegations, fabrications and antisemitic blood libel plots,” he said. (The court has made no charges; it is only hearing the case so far, as it is bound to do when one party to the Genocide Convention accuses another.)

“Anti-Israelism is the new antisemitism,” Barkat said, asserting that Israel tries harder than any other country to minimize civilian casualties.

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