Friday, March 1, 2024

Our duty to do what we can to prevent genocide: South Africa’s justice minister

During the first day of the hearing in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, Ronald Lamona, South Africa’s justice minister, in his opening remarks said Israel’s response to the October 7 attack has crossed this line and given rise to the breaches of the Genocide Convention.

During much-anticipated proceedings, Lamona began by quoting Nelson Mandela’s support for the people of Palestine: In extending our hands across the miles to the people of Palestine, we do so in the full knowledge that we are part of humanity.”

Lamona said that the Palestinians have experienced systematic oppression and violence for the last 76 years, on October 6, 2023, and every day since October 7, 2023.

“In the Gaza Strip, at least since 2004, Israel continues to exercise control over the airspace, territorial waters, land crossings, water, electricity and civilian infrastructure, as well as key government functions.”

Before Lamona, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands Vusimuzi Madonsela spoke where he expressed his gratitude to the court for convening this hearing on the earliest possible date to entertain South Africa’s requests for the indication of provisional measures.

As provisional measures, South Africa said that Israel should immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza.

Madonsela reminded us that South Africa has recognised the ongoing Nakba of the Palestinian people through Israel’s colonisation since 1948.

In its filing, South Africa argued that Israel has not only “failed to prevent genocide”, but it also “engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza”.

“The acts in question include killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction. The acts are all attributable to Israel, which has failed to prevent genocide and is committing genocide in manifest violation of the Genocide Convention,” the submission reads.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, holds public hearings on the request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by South Africa in the case South Africa v. Israel on 11 and 12 January 2024, at the Peace Palace in The Hague, the seat of the Court.

Sessions are held under the presidency of Judge Joan E. Donoghue, President of the Court.

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