Ireland to intervene in South Africa’s ICJ genocide case against Israel

Irish Defense and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, left, meets with Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 16, 2023. (Zain Jaafar/Pool Photo via AP)
Irish Defense and Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin, left, meets with Palestinian prime minister Mohammad Shtayyeh in the West Bank city of Ramallah on November 16, 2023. (Zain Jaafar/Pool Photo via AP)

Ireland says it will intervene in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, in the strongest signal to date of Dublin’s concern about Israeli operations in Gaza since October 7.

Announcing the move, Foreign Minister Micheal Martin says that while it was for the World Court to decide whether genocide is being committed, he wants to be clear that Hamas’ October 7 attack and what is happening in Gaza now “represents the blatant violation of international humanitarian law on a mass scale.”

“The taking of hostages. The purposeful withholding of humanitarian assistance to civilians. The targeting of civilians and of civilian infrastructure. The indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The use of civilian objects for military purposes. The collective punishment of an entire population,” Martin says in a statement.

“The list goes on. It has to stop. The view of the international community is clear. Enough is enough.”

In January the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the Genocide Convention and to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts against Palestinians after South Africa accused Israel of state-led genocide in Gaza.

Israel and its Western allies described the allegation as baseless. A final ruling in South Africa’s ICJ case in The Hague could take years.

Martin does not say what form the intervention would take or outline any argument Ireland plans to advance but adds that the step was decided following legal and policy analysis and consultation with several partners including South Africa.

Martin’s department says such third-party interventions do not take a specific side in the dispute, but that the intervention would be an opportunity for Ireland to put forward its interpretation of one or more of the provisions of the Genocide Convention at issue in the case.

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