Israel defends itself from “distorted” accusation of genocide

(The Hague) Israel said Friday it did not seek to destroy the Palestinian people in Gaza, defending itself against a “totally distorted” and “malicious” genocide charge brought against it before the highest court in the UN.

South Africa last month urgently seized the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which sits in The Hague, arguing that Israel was violating the United Nations Convention on Genocide, signed in 1948 following the Holocaust.

Pretoria wants judges to order Israel to “immediately” stop the military campaign launched in Gaza after the unprecedented Hamas attack on Israeli soil on October 7, which left around 1,140 dead, according to an AFP count from the Israeli record.

In retaliation, Israel vowed to “annihilate” Hamas in power in Gaza and launched an offensive in this Palestinian territory which left at least 23,469 dead, mostly women, adolescents and children, according to the latest report from the Hamas Ministry of Health.

But according to Tal Becker, one of the lawyers for the Jewish State, Pretoria “unfortunately presented to the Court a completely distorted factual and legal picture” of the conflict.

Using videos and images, Mr. Becker presented before the magistrates a picture of the horrors committed according to him during the Hamas attack.

Hamas members “tortured children in front of their parents, parents in front of their children, burned people” and were guilty of rape and mutilation, he said.

” Self-defense ”

The lawyer stressed that Israel’s response was an act of self-defense and did not target civilians. “Israel is engaged in a war of defense against Hamas, not against the Palestinian people,” Mr. Becker said.

In these circumstances, “there cannot be a more false or more malicious accusation than the accusation of genocide against Israel,” he said.

The Jewish state and its ally Washington dismissed the case before the ICJ as baseless.

Israel “is accused of genocide at a time when it is fighting genocide,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took offense on Thursday.

“A terrorist organization has committed the worst crime against the Jewish people since the Holocaust and now someone is coming to defend them in the name of the Holocaust. What nerve ! “, he added.

As this is an emergency procedure, the ICJ could rule within a few weeks. Its decisions are final and legally binding, but it has no power to enforce them. For example, she ordered Russia to suspend its invasion of Ukraine.

However, the court will not yet rule on the merits of the case – whether Israel is indeed committing genocide – but only on whether the fundamental rights of Gaza residents are currently under threat.

“Crossed the line”

“If there were acts that could be described as genocidal, then they were perpetrated against Israel,” Mr. Becker said, referring to what he called Israel’s “proudly declared program of annihilation.” on the part of Hamas.

South Africa can sue Israel at the ICJ since both countries signed the Genocide Convention.

South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola told magistrates on Thursday that Israel had “crossed the line” and violated the convention, something even the brutality of the Hamas attack cannot justify.

“Genocides are never declared in advance,” said Adila Hassim, a South African lawyer.

“But this court has the benefit of the last 13 weeks of evidence that indisputably shows a pattern of behavior and intent that supports a plausible allegation of genocidal acts,” she added.

The African National Congress (ANC), in power in South Africa, has long supported the Palestinian cause.

Former South African president and hero of the anti-apartheid struggle Nelson Mandela said that South Africa’s freedom would be “incomplete” without that of the Palestinians.

Local authorities in Bethlehem, in the West Bank, raised the South African flag on Friday, drawing cheers from the crowd.

Pretoria has “shown our suffering all over the world”, the city’s mayor, Anton Salman, told AFP, who hopes that this affair will bring “fruitful results for the Palestinian people and for humanity in general”.


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