January 28, 2024


South Africans

ICJ courthouse and listeners to their ruling

(Global Information Network/TriceEdneyWire.com) -  The U.N.’s International Court of Justice (ICJ) has agreed to take up an application submitted by South Africa seeking an immediate suspension of Israeli military operations in and against the Palestinian people of Gaza.

In its 84 page petition to the court, South Africa cited military operations that have devastated hundreds of schools, including those run by the U.N., destroyed educational infrastructure, and left thousands of beleaguered students suffering from mental trauma.

Close to 45 percent of residential buildings in Gaza have been damaged or ruined beyond repair, according to a recent report by the World Bank. These alleged damages and the deaths of some 25,000 Palestinians are violations by Israel of its obligations under the Genocide Convention, South Africa claims.

In its response on Friday, Jan. 26, the panel of 17 judges agreed that South Africa had jurisdiction to bring the case against Israel and that there was plausible risk that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza. The finding, read out by Joan Donoghue, president of the court, was applauded by the South African delegation.

South Africa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs called the decision a “significant milestone in the search for justice for the Palestine people. The decision is momentous… “

In the court’s ruling, Israel is ordered to take steps to limit harm to Palestinians, preserve evidence of genocide, and submit a report within a month on all measures in response to the court’s order. The judges rejected Israel’s request to throw out the case and ordered Israel to take "immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians."

“At least some of the acts and omissions alleged by South Africa to have been committed by Israel in Gaza appear to be capable of falling within the provisions of the (genocide) convention,” Judge Donaghue said.

While the court failed to order a ceasefire, Columbia University Professor Mahmood Mamdani in an interview with the news show DemocracyNow, opined that the court had indeed called for a ceasefire.  “If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it just may be a duck,” he said humorously.

In a serious note, Mamdani continued: “The South African case has a strong side and a weak side. The strong side is its content, its substance, and that is based almost entirely, from what I can see, on U.N. documents. So the court is not going to question the authenticity or the veracity of those documents. Almost everybody agrees that the intellectual case is very strong.

“It’s interesting that the lawyers for Israel did not claim that a genocide was unfolding,” he added. “They questioned whether South Africa was the appropriate party to bring this question to the court. And they said that South Africa had not taken into consideration Jewish holidays, belittling the substantial question, which is genocide.”

Still, the preliminary court ruling offers only a glimmer of hope for the more than 2 million Palestinian civilians suffering in Gaza, as the ruling alone cannot put an end to the atrocities and devastation Gazans are experiencing.

For its part, Israel has rejected the accusations of genocide as baseless and said South Africa was acting as an emissary of the Hamas terror group, which seeks to eliminate the Jewish state. The Israel Defense Forces is targeting Hamas terrorists, not Palestinian civilians, they said, but that civilian casualties in the fighting are unavoidable as terrorists operate from within the population.

In a worrying development, it was reported in the Times of Israel that thousands of right-wing activists are getting ready to resettle Gaza after the war. ‘Gaza City will be Jewish’  one leader was quoted to say; adding that core groups of potential residents are being assembled.

Mamdani continued: “Israel has had a record of sheltering under American power, both hard power and soft power. This time, whether it will be able to do so is also questionable.

“The Israeli stance has been that the international community has no moral standing when it comes to Israel, because: Where were they when the Holocaust took place? There’s some truth in this, except that it doesn’t apply to most of the Third World which wasn’t part of the U.N. when the Holocaust took place. It also doesn’t apply to South Africa, which had an apartheid government. And that government was in cahoots with Israel, and Israel was one of the major foreign parties strengthening that government.

“South Africa has the moral standing to bring the claim of genocide, which others lack. So who else but South Africa can stand up for victims in Israel?”