ICJ Hearings: Israel Responds to Allegations of Genocide in Gaza Amidst International Controversy
Stockholm: The hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on January 11 and 12, 2024, regarding genocide in Gaza will mark Israel's first formal response to allegations of atrocities against the Palestinian people since October 7, 2023, according to Human Rights Watch. South Africa filed a case on December 29, accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
On January 2, Israeli officials confirmed their representation at the ICJ to oppose South Africa's application. South Africa claims that Israel committed genocide against Palestinians in Gaza and failed to prevent it, seeking a legal determination of state responsibility for genocide, not criminal charges against individuals.
South Africa has urgently requested provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza during the case. These measures include the suspension of Israel's military operations in Gaza, compliance with the Genocide Convention, and preservation of evidence related to the case.
Israel is set to provide its formal response on January 12. The Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry dismissed South Africa's application as a "blood libel" lacking factual and legal basis. The United States and Israel have criticized the application, while several parties to the Genocide Convention, including Bangladesh, Bolivia, and Turkey, support South Africa's case.
The ICJ, composed of 15 judges, will decide on provisional measures, and past practice suggests a decision within weeks. While legally binding, provisional measures do not prejudge the merits of the allegations. Ad-hoc judges, including Dikgang Moseneke and Aharon Barak, have been appointed by South Africa and Israel, respectively.
South Africa brought the case under Article 9 of the Genocide Convention, and the ICJ will also hear public hearings on Israel's prolonged occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, requested by the UN General Assembly in December 2022. The ICJ's advisory opinion on this matter is expected to begin on February 19.
Karim Khan, the International Criminal Court prosecutor, is also investigating alleged atrocity crimes in Palestine. The situation remains complex, with various nations expressing differing opinions on the matter.