Israel vs. South Africa
Israel is facing another line of battle – a war of words. South Africa has petitioned The International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of committing “genocide” against Palestinians in Gaza. Now Israel must defend itself in words and not in deeds. It accuses South Africa in turn of an “absurd blood libel,” that the allegations are baseless and inciteful of antisemitism. Moreover, if anyone is guilty of genocide, it is Hamas who carried out a genocidal attack on October 7.
In this war of words, the accusing South Africa must convince the ICJ that Israel acted with specific intentions to bring about the destruction of a nation, race, or religion – in this case, Gazan Palestinians. Were that Israel’s intention, there is no doubt that Israel has the military power and means to bring about the complete destruction of Gaza in a short time. Despite the sophisticated legal arguments accompanied by abstract concepts and elevated language, a simple truth emerges:
- Hamas declared war against the entire nation of Israel whereas Israel responded by warring against the Hamas terror organization only.
- Hamas uses its own Gazan citizens as human shields in an effort to show the world that Israel targets women and children. In fact, the Israeli army does its utmost to avoid civilian casualties.
- During the three-month battle, out of a population of about 2 million, approximately only 14,000 civilians and around 9,000 Hamas fighters died, all within one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
Tragically, civilians are killed in all wars. In this war, however, the relatively small number of civilian deaths cannot support any intent on Israel’s part to commit genocide nor that genocide is taking place.
What is the International Court of Justice?
The ICJ, or World Court, based in the Hague, the Netherlands, was established in 1945 as the United Nations’ judicial arm to resolve international disputes between states and to issue advisory opinions on matters of international law at the request of UN entities.
According to international law, the legal basis for the charge of “genocide” (a 1940 term introduced by Holocaust survivor Raphael Lemkin to ensure the absence of impunity for mass killings like those in the Holocaust) is a specific intention to bring about the destruction of a nation, race, or religion either wholly or partially.
It will likely take years for the ICJ to examine these claims and reach a decision on their merits.
During these lengthy deliberations, South Africa hopes the Court will force Israel to stop the war in Gaza. To this end, South Africa has asked that Israel be found in violation of the Genocide Convention, be forced to cease hostilities, and take measures to provide victims with redress.
Furthermore, South Africa alleges that Israel has failed to prevent and punish incitement to genocide committed by members of the government and others.
Why is South Africa Accusing Israel of Genocide?
The case filed by South Africa is only the latest of a long series of anti-Israel positions the country has taken. In recent years, its historic alliance with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) has shifted to also include Hamas, the antisemitic terror organization that controls Gaza.
Present accusations represent the most dangerous and deceptive rhetoric to date. The implied hypocrisy is that the survivors of the Shoah genocide are now themselves committing genocide, making it a powerful accusation in the war of words against Israel.
What is Behind South Africa’s Stance?
The anti-Israel, pro-Palestinian government of South Africa, the African National Congress, is likely seeking more votes in the upcoming national elections wherein the ICJ claim may provide a distraction from pressing domestic issues such as persistent unemployment, inequality, and poverty.
Last November, South Africa recalled its diplomats from Israel and called on the International Criminal Court to issue arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and other Israeli leaders for “statements of genocidal intent” and other alleged war crimes. Israel withdrew its ambassador from Pretoria for consultation.
South Africa’s legal team is led by John Dugard, who falsely accused Israel of committing the crime of apartheid against Palestinians when he served as the UN’s special rapporteur for human rights in the Palestinian territories during the 2000s. Now he seeks victory at the ICJ.
Also joining the South African delegation is former U.K. opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn, a fierce critic of Israel who recently refused to call Hamas a terror group. Corbyn was ousted by the Labour Party after a report revealed rampant antisemitism that forced a number of Jewish members and lawmakers to leave the party at the time. Now he is seeking victory to redeem himself.
How will Israel Prove that the Accusation is Baseless?
Israel has recorded proof of the October 7 massacre demonstrating that Israel’s military campaign in Gaza is in self-defense, a response to a genocidal attack against it by Hamas. Israel’s proof satisfies international law. This would convey to the Court that it would be inappropriate to order Israel to cease its defensive military operations.
Israel’s team will also emphasize the extensive precautionary measures taken by the IDF (Israeli Defense Force) to avoid disproportionately harming Palestinian civilians and Israel’s ongoing humanitarian relief to Gaza since mid-October to render baseless South Africa’s assertion that Israel is acting with genocidal intent.
Since the start of the war, Israel has transferred over 11,000 tons of medical supplies to Gaza. Israel has also transferred over 78,870 metric tons of food, 17,260 metric tons of water, and 16,210 metric tons of shelter equipment.
Israel’s team will likely rebut South Africa’s accusations by pointing to oft-repeated statements by those with actual command authority that Israel’s war is against Hamas, not Palestinian civilians in Gaza.
Officials, Leaders, and Experts Around the World Rebut South Africa’s Claim
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the accusation of genocide “meritless”. It’s particularly galling, given that those who are attacking Israel – Hamas, Hizballah, the Houthis, as well as their supporter, Iran – continue to openly call for the annihilation of Israel and the mass murder of Jews,” he said.
John Kirby, communications coordinator for the U.S. National Security Council, also called South Africa’s allegation “meritless, counterproductive, and completely without basis in fact whatsoever.”
In earlier statements, he said the term “genocide” to describe the Israeli operation is inappropriate: “What Hamas wants, make no mistake about it, is genocide. They want to wipe Israel off the map …That’s genocidal intentions,” Kirby said last December. “It is obvious that Israel is not trying to wipe the Palestinian people off the map. Israel’s not trying to wipe Gaza off the map. Israel is trying to defend itself against a genocidal terrorist threat. If we’re going to start using that word – fine. Let’s use it appropriately.”
A spokesman for the German government has made it clear that Germany does not view Israel’s military actions in Gaza as genocide.
Retired Canadian Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella also has lambasted South Africa’s genocide case against Israel as an abuse of the postwar legal order.
Meanwhile, French historian Vincent Duclert, who examined France’s role in the 1994 Rwandan genocide of Tutsis, has said “a humanitarian situation, even frightening, is not enough to define genocide.”
Thank you friends for praying with us for justice. For nations and people to realize that Israel is still in the plan of God and the powers of darkness are trying to destroy her, in our time, through radical Jihadi Islam through the destruction of Israel to prevent God’s plan from being fulfilled. Thank you also for your prayers for the Israeli government, the hostages, and the many thousands who evacuated their homes along the borders where the war is still going on.
- Pray against the distraction of lawfare against our government – and also against anything else that brings division and disunity to Israelis.
- While Israel does its best to rid the land of terrorism both for the sake of Jewish and Arab Israelis and also for Palestinians including Gazans, please pray for success in this mission.
- Please pray that Israel rescue the hostages very soon.
- Pray that Hamas is Contained and Restrained in any way the Lord sees fit.
- Pray for protection for the IDF and all of the non-involved citizens of Israel.
- Pray that the plans of the enemy are thwarted in every way.