Friday, March 1, 2024

Israel rejects accusations of genocide at ICJ hearing, calls it “self-defence’

Israel on Friday rejected the accusations brought by South Africa to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that its actions in Gaza amount to genocide, in the second day of a public hearing at the International Court of Justice in Hague.

Defending the unprecedented death toll, Israeli legal team member Galit Raguan said, “Urban warfare will always result in tragic deaths, harm and damage, but in Gaza, these undesired outcomes are exacerbated because they are the desired outcomes of Hamas.”

On the first day of hearings, South Africa argued Israel had committed “systematic” acts of genocide in Gaza, where more than 23,500 Palestinians have been killed amid Israel’s military campaign, with at least 70 percent of whom were women and children, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry.

Blinne Ni Ghralaigh, a lawyer representing South Africa at the International Court of Justice, said that on average, 247 Palestinians are being killed and are at risk of being killed each day. They include 48 mothers daily and more than 117 children daily.

Israel’s legal representatives claimed South Africa’s case was “unfounded”, “absurd” and amounting to “libel”.

Israel’s legal team insisted that the twin military objectives were to eradicate the existential threat posed by Hamas militants and to free some 136 hostages still held.

Earlier, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, a lawyer for South Africa, said, “The evidence of genocidal intent is not only chilling, it is also overwhelming and incontrovertible.”

The ICJ is set to rule on nine provisional measures effectively seeking the suspension of military operations in Gaza. Still, a timeline for when that will happen has not been stated.

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