Reaction to South Africa’s UN court case against Israel’s war in Gaza

THE HAGUE – South Africa accused Israel on Thursday of subjecting Palestinians to genocidal acts at the opening of hearings at the top U.N. court on a case the country brought against the devastating Israeli military campaign in Gaza. Israel says the case is baseless.

The following are reactions to the proceedings that began at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague.

PALESTINIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY STATEMENT ISSUED IN RAMALLAH IN THE ISRAELI-OCCUPIED WEST BANK

“South Africa’s case before the International Court of Justice… is a historic event in the process of the joint Palestinian and South African struggle in the face of the injustice and genocide.

“Holding Israel, the illegal occupying power, accountable, using all legal tools, and through international justice institutions and international law enforcement, is the main focus of the legal strategy of the State of Palestine, and the core of the diplomatic and international movement.

“…What encouraged Israel and its various tools, including government officials, military personnel, and colonialists, to commit crimes, leading to the commission of, and incitement to commit, the crime of genocide, is due to international failure, the failure to take practical steps to hold it accountable…, and supplying Israel with various types of lethal weapons and political support…”

GAZA’S RULING HAMAS GROUP

Political official Basem Naim: “We welcome the convening of the (case)…on the accusation of ethnic cleansing and genocide. We are looking forward to seeing a decision by the court that would achieve justice for the (Palestinian) victims, end the aggression on Gaza, and hold the war criminals accountable.”

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri: “The Palestinian people are following the court session in The Hague with great concern and interest … We urge the court to reject all pressure and take a decision to criminalise the Israeli occupation and stop the aggression on Gaza.”

AMER SALAH, 23, A DISPLACED PALESTINIAN IN GAZA

“Israel has always been a state above the law. They did what they did in Gaza because they knew they couldn’t be punished as long as America was on their side. It is time to change that.

“We salute South Africa, and we want the war to be stopped and the court can do that. We call upon the world to say enough to Israeli killings, enough to massacres, enough to the destruction of Gaza, enough to the bloodshed.”

ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON EYLON LEVY

Levy compared the lawsuit to a centuries-old antisemitic conspiracy theory falsely accusing Jews of killing babies for ritual. “The State of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel, as Pretoria gives political and legal cover to the Hamas rapist regime.”

SOUTH AFRICAN JEWISH BOARD OF DEPUTIES

“South Africa’s double-speak and double-standards is also evident with dogged determination to remain neutral and `talk to both’ sides in the Russia-Ukraine war. Yet, with Israel it has taken constant punitive action, including refusing to offer condolences to Israel after the 7 October massacre, closing the South African embassy, issuing a demarche to the Israeli ambassador and now taking Israel to the ICJ.

“The SA Jewish Board of Deputies regrets all loss of civilian lives. We too, desperately want to see peace in the region and will support all initiatives that will bring about a two-state solution.

“Hamas started this war. Hamas can end it. South Africa could play a role in facilitating this.”

GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER ANNALENA BAERBOCK

“It is a fact that genocide preconditions the intention, to destroy or partly destroy a group because of their nationality, ethnicity, race or religion. I cannot detect any of this intention by Israel in its self-defence against an armed terror group Hamas. We will observe the hearing closely.”

HUNGARIAN FOREIGN MINISTER PETER SZIJJARTO

“I told my new (Israeli) colleague that Hungary condemns the legal attack on Israel at the International Court of Justice in The Hague. Accusing a country that has suffered a terrorist attack of genocide is obviously nonsense. Hungary’s position remains unchanged: We stand by Israel’s right to self-defence.”

SOUTH AFRICA’S NELSON MANDELA FOUNDATION

“The Nelson Mandela Foundation extends support to the South African legal team as they appear before the International Court of Justice today. Wishing them strength and success in their pursuit of truth, justice and peace. #CeasefireNow.”

LEBANON’S FOREIGN MINISTRY

“We hope for a) “fair and expeditious verdict that reflects respect for human values and rights, especially international humanitarian law”. ‎‎ ‎‎ REUTERS

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