The International Court of Justice (ICJ), a World Court with its headquarters in The Hague, heard the opening of South Africa’s historic lawsuit against Israel for its attack on Gaza last Thursday. Israel is being charged by Pretoria with violating the 1948 Genocide Convention by perpetrating an act of genocide.
The health ministry of Gaza reports that since October 7, over 23,000 individuals have died there. Almost 10,000 kids are included in that.
The South African group, led by international law expert and lawyer John Dugard, described the horrific situation of the Palestinian people in Gaza, who are under siege, being attacked by lethal Israeli military ground invasions, and subjected to constant Israeli attacks, in a three-hour delivery to the judges of the International Court of Justice.
The International Court of Justice may take years to render a decision. However, the primary focus of this week’s hearings is South Africa’s particular request for an emergency injunction to stop the ongoing deaths and devastation in the Gaza Strip. According to specialists, a temporary sentence might expire in a few weeks.
One of the South African counsel, Adila Hassim, stated that while the court may decide to intervene if it determines that at least part of Israel’s activities fall within the convention’s criteria, it is not required for it to reach a decision on the genocide accusations at this time.
The five primary “genocidal acts” that Hassim said Israel was responsible for throughout the conflict are Mass killings of Palestinians, bodily and mental harm, forced displacement and food blockade, destruction of the healthcare system, and preventing Palestinian births.
Hassim stated that the “first genocidal act is the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza,” displaying images of mass graves containing “often unidentified” victims to the court. According to her, Israel has placed very lethal 2000-pound bombs in areas of Gaza that it has deemed secure.
According to Hassim, “Israel’s imposition of serious mental and bodily harm” on the Gaza population constitutes the second act of genocide. In a region where the health system has crumbled, nearly 60,000 people—mostly women and children—have been injured or left severely disabled. Hassim mentioned the vast number of Palestinians—including children—who were apprehended after being stripped off and put into vehicles that were being driven to unidentified places. “There is no disputing place for the physical and psychological suffering of the Palestinian people.”
Hassim stated that Israel had purposefully created unlivable circumstances in Gaza, forcing the majority of the inhabitants to flee, with the goal of destroying the region. According to Hassim, hundreds of thousands of families have experienced several displacements, and half a million currently without a place to call home. She mentioned that Israel ordered clinics to evacuate completely in a matter of few days.
According to Hassim, Israel’s military attack on Gaza’s medical facilities, which has made life there inefficient, is the fourth act of genocide. She claimed that years of Israeli attacks have severely damaged Gaza’s hospital system, to the point that it is now unable to handle the overwhelming volume of injured patients seeking urgent medical attention.
Finally, Hassim continued, Israel is impeding the life-saving care required to deliver newborns. She said that this is genocide because it amounts to stopping births in Gaza.