Nicaragua files application to join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel

The Central American country is the first nation to formally seek permission to intervene in ICJ case, although similar applications in the past have rarely been accepted

A man holds a Palestinian flag during the inauguration of Gaza street in support to the Palestinian people, in the historic center of Managua, Nicaragua on January 30, 2024. (Oswaldo Rivas/AFP)
A man holds a Palestinian flag during the inauguration of Gaza street in support to the Palestinian people, in the historic center of Managua, Nicaragua on January 30, 2024. (Oswaldo Rivas/AFP)

AMSTERDAM, The Netherlands — Nicaragua has filed an application with the International Court of Justice to join South Africa in its genocide case against Israel, the World Court said on Thursday.

The court said in a statement that Nicaragua considers Israel’s conduct in its war against Hamas to be in “violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention.”

South Africa and Israel have been invited to furnish written observations on Nicaragua’s application for permission to intervene as a party.

Historically, the kind of intervention Nicaragua is requesting has rarely been granted by the ICJ.

Several other states have signaled they might want to intervene in the case, but none have formally done so before Nicaragua. Germany was the first to say it would intervene, on Israel’s behalf, a month ago, rejecting the genocide allegation and stating that Israel was “defending itself” after the “inhuman” onslaught by Hamas on October 7.

In December, South Africa filed a genocide case against Israel declaring that it was in breach of its obligations under the 1948 Genocide Convention in its war with the Palestinian terror group Hamas in Gaza.

The war erupted with a shock terror onslaught carried out by Hamas in southern Israel on October 7, in which thousands of terrorists slaughtered some 1,200 people and seized 253 hostages amid scenes of horrific brutality.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the UN, delivers its order on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by South Africa against Israel over its actions in the Gaza Strip, January 26, 2024. (Courtesy International Court of Justice)

In response, Israel launched an aerial campaign and ground invasion, vowing to eradicate Hamas and end its 16-year rule of the Gaza Strip, as well as to return the hostages, of whom 136 are still held in Gaza, not all of them alive.

The United Nations has estimated that more than 85 percent of Gaza’s 2.3 million residents have been displaced, and the Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza has said that more than 27,800 people have been killed since the start of the war four months ago.

These figures cannot be independently verified, however, 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 10,000 operatives in Gaza, in addition to some 1,000 terrorists inside Israel on October 7.

Last month, after hearing arguments both from South Africa and Israel over two days, the World Court ruled 15-2 that at least some of Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip during the ongoing war against Hamas could fall within the terms of the Genocide Convention and said it must therefore take a series of preventative measures.

It stopped short, however, of ordering an immediate, unilateral ceasefire as South Africa had hoped it would.

It instructed Israel to take a series of preventative steps, including preventing the killing or injuring of Gazans, preventing conditions that would lead to such harm, and ensuring the avoidance of conditions intended to prevent births among Gazans

It also ordered Israel to prevent and punish incitement to genocide against Palestinians, take urgent measures to alleviate the “adverse” humanitarian situation in Gaza, prevent the destruction of evidence related to allegations of acts of genocide and report back to the court in one month on the issues laid out in the order.

Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.

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