South Africa began its case Thursday before the United Nation’s top court in The Hague, Netherlands, arguing that Israel is committing genocide with its war in Gaza, while Israel accused the African nation of advocating on behalf of the terrorist organization Hamas and ignoring the Oct. 7 massacre and kidnapping of people in Israel.
South Africa argued that Israel is violating the UN’s 1948 genocide convention, which went into effect shortly after 6 million Jews, as well as millions of other minorities and political dissidents, were killed in the Holocaust.
The case comes as the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between civilian and militant casualties, said more than 23,000 people have died in the Gaza Strip since Oct. 7, when Hamas and other terrorists invaded Israel, murdering about 1,200 people and kidnapping 240 others. More than 130 are still in captivity and are being denied Red Cross care and medical treatment, according to Israeli and international officials.
The International Court of Justice will hear Israel’s defense Friday after South Africa presented its arguments in the first of two days of public hearings.
“South Africa, which is functioning as the legal arm of the Hamas terrorist organization, utterly distorted the reality in Gaza following the October 7 massacre and completely ignored the fact that Hamas terrorists infiltrated Israel, murdered, executed, massacred, raped and abducted Israeli citizens, simply because they were Israelis, in an attempt to carry out genocide,” Israel Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat said on X, formerly Twitter, after the arguments.
Haiat also said that South Africa is “ignoring the fact that Hamas uses the civilian population in Gaza as human shields,” and that Israel will do what is needed to protect its citizens.
However, South Africa Justice Minister Ronald Ozzy Lamola argued in The Hague, “The violence and destruction in Palestine and Israel did not begin on 07 October 2023. The Palestinians have experienced systemic oppression and violence for the last 76 years, on 6 October 2023 and every day since October 7th,” according to quotes from the day posted on X by the South African government.
Israel was established in 1948, but it did not control the West Bank or Gaza until 1967, and in 2005, it disengaged from the Gaza Strip, which has been controlled by Hamas since 2007.