As more than 150,000 Palestinians are being forced to flee Central Gaza, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has confirmed that South Africa has lodged an application asking that Israel’s ongoing attack on Palestine should be classified as genocide.
In a statement, Monique Legerman, the Hague registry, under the leadership of First Secretary of the Court and Head of Department, stated that South Africa has also made a request to the Court for provisional measures. She mentioned that the application was submitted on Friday, December 29, 2023.
“South Africa today filed an application instituting proceedings against Israel before the ICJ, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, concerning alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in relation to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the registry stated.
According to the application South Africa forwarded to the Court, “acts and omissions by Israel . . . are genocidal in character, as they are committed with the requisite specific intent . . . to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group.”
The application further states that “the conduct of Israel — through its State organs, State agents, and other persons and entities acting on its instructions or under its direction, control or influence — in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, is in violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention”.
South Africa told the Court that since October 7, 2023, Israel has failed to prevent genocide and has “failed to prosecute the direct and public incitement to genocide” and that “Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza”.
South Africa seeks to found the Court’s jurisdiction on Article 36, paragraph 1, of the Statute of the Court and on Article IX of the Genocide Convention, to which both South Africa and Israel are parties.
“The Application also contains a Request for the indication of provisional measures, pursuant to Article 41 of the Statute of the Court and Articles 73, 74 and 75 of the Rules of Court. Pursuant to Article 74 of the Rules of Court, ‘[a] request for the indication of provisional measures shall have priority over all other cases,’” the registry stated.
Since October, Israel has been engaged in a military campaign against Palestinians, resulting in a tragic loss of innocent lives. Over 20,000 civilians have been killed, and the number of displaced individuals has exceeded 2 million.
South Africa has adopted a firm position against Israel, asserting that the ongoing mass killings in Gaza lack any justification.
The ICJ serves as the primary judicial body of the United Nations. The United Nations Charter was established in June 1945, and it commenced its activities in April 1946.
The Court consists of 15 judges who are elected for a nine-year term by the General Assembly and the Security Council of the United Nations. The Court is located at the Peace Palace in The Hague, Netherlands.
The ICJ has two main roles: to resolve legal disputes between States, following international law, and to provide advisory opinions on legal questions referred to it by authorized United Nations organs and agencies.