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Israel to defend itself against Gaza genocide case at UN top court


Israel will on Friday (Jan 12) hit back at what it describes as “atrocious” allegations it is committing “genocide” in Gaza, in a closely watched landmark case before the UN’s top court.

South Africa has launched an emergency case at the International Court of Justice arguing that Israel stands in breach of the UN Genocide Convention, signed in 1948 in the wake of the Holocaust.

Pretoria wants judges to force Israel to “immediately” stop the Gaza campaign launched after the devastating Oct 7 Hamas attacks, which left 1,140 dead, according to an AFP tally based on Israeli figures.

Israel has responded with a relentless military campaign that has killed at least 23,469 people, mostly women and children, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry.

Israel and its ally the United States have dismissed the case as groundless and vowed a robust defence at the Peace Palace in The Hague, which houses the ICJ.

“No, South Africa, it is not we who have come to perpetrate genocide, it is Hamas,” said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the run-up to the hearings.

“We will continue our defensive war, the justice and morality of which is without peer,” he added.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said the South African case was “unfounded”.

“In fact, it is those who are violently attacking Israel who continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews,” said Miller.

The ICJ will likely rule within a matter of weeks on South Africa’s request. Its rulings are final and legally binding but it has little power to enforce them.

A month after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the ICJ ordered a halt to the military operation – to no avail.

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