South Africa’s Meritless, Misplaced Anti-Israel ICJ Case

Jan 11, 2024

To: Interested Parties
From: The 10/7 Project
Re: South Africa’s Meritless, Misplaced Anti-Israel ICJ Case 

Contact: [email protected]

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) will hold hearings this Thursday and Friday on South Africa’s anti-Israel case, which falsely accuses the Middle East’s only democracy – a country that is fighting terrorists who explicitly call for the genocide of Jews  – of somehow perpetrating genocide itself. As Secretary of State Blinken said in Tel Aviv this week, South Africa’s case is “meritless.”

Israel has appointed Aharon Barak, a Holocaust survivor, retired Chief Justice of the Israeli Supreme Court, and staunch defender of the rule of law, as a judge in the case. He is well-respected internationally and widely regarded as fair and impartial.

South Africa’s meritless and misplaced case ignores Hamas’s calls to repeat the October 7th massacre and perpetrate genocide against the Jewish people. South Africa’s 84-page filing does not once acknowledge Hamas’s publicly stated intent to repeat the horrors of October 7th – which included killing 1,200 people and abducting around 240 hostages – “again and again” so long as the terrorist group has the capability to do so.

In bringing this anti-Israel case before the ICJ, South Africa hopes to pressure Israel into surrendering its right to defend itself against Hamas terrorists. Israel’s government has clearly stated its objectives for the war: to “eliminate Hamas by destroying its military and governing capabilities and to do everything possible to bring [the] hostages home.” Israel has made significant progress toward these objectives, having killed or captured between 8,000 to 9,000 Hamas terrorists since October 7th. Since the start of the conflict between Israel and Hamas, several high-ranking Hamas military commanders have been eliminated. Just last week, a strike killed top Hamas official Saleh al-Arouri, the “mastermind” of Hamas terrorism in the West Bank.

Israeli officials take extraordinary actions to limit civilian casualties. The IDF makes phone calls, sends text messages, and drops leaflets warning civilians of military operations in the vicinity before they occur to prevent civilian casualties. Hamas routinely orders civilians to ignore these warnings, consistent with its tactic of using Palestinians as human shields.

Contrary to South Africa’s false claims, Israel has facilitated the flow of international humanitarian aid into Gaza. Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war on October 7th, COGAT (Coordinator of the Government Activities in the Territories) – Israel’s government agency tasked with coordinating humanitarian initiatives – has delivered food, water, medical supplies, and other aid to Gaza. Israel has delivered over 137,000 tons of humanitarian aid to Gaza since the start of the conflict. Yesterday, January 10, Israel facilitated the entry of some 208 humanitarian aid trucks into the Gaza Strip. Prior to the war that Hamas initiated with its October 7th massacre, an average of 79 food trucksentered Gaza each day. Last week, the number of food trucks entering daily averaged 109.

Israel encourages countries and humanitarian organizations to set up field hospitals in and around Gaza. Since the start of the war, Jordan, the UAE, the Red Crescent, and the International Medical Corps have established, with Israel’s support, field hospitals in Gaza to bolster the civilian medical response.

Aside from these efforts, the IDF remains committed to allowing tactical pauses in fighting for humanitarian purposes, and Israel is opening new corridors for aid Israel has opened a “humanitarian corridor” for evacuation to Southern Gaza, and to transport aid from international organizations to the north. Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen also approved fast-track aid shipments to Gaza through a newly established maritime corridorfrom Cyprus. And last month, Israel opened a second crossing into Gaza, at Kerem Shalom, to facilitate the inspection and entry of additional aid trucks. Hamas, by contrast, has rejected Israeli offers to initiate another humanitarian pause in the fighting in return for releasing additional women, children, and the elderly it continues to hold hostage.

Gazans say Hamas has stolen humanitarian aid from the Palestinians they claim to represent. According to testimony from Gazans themselves, Hamas steals food aid and seizes their property for its own use. Recently released videos show Hamas fighters beating Gaza residents and stealing food and fuel provided by international relief organizations. Hamas’s pattern of depriving civilians of desperately needed aid is a clear example of the group’s callous disregard for Palestinian life. “[Hamas] exploits us under the pretext of resistance,” a Gaza civilian relayed to CNN.

South Africa’s case blatantly overlooks Hamas’s indefensible actions against Palestinians in Gaza and its original charter’s explicit call to “[kill] the Jews” in the region. Hamas has committed a wide range of documented war crimes since October 7th, including but not limited to sexual violence against Israeli civilians; training child soldiers; using noncombatants as human shields; conducting terrorist activities from hospitals; and hiding weapons and bombs in civilian homes. Hamas also continues to indoctrinate and radicalize young Palestinians, including through puzzles and games that incite violence against Israel.

This week, U.N. rapporteurs asserted that Hamas’s actions on October 7th may amount to “crimes against humanity,” further undermining South Africa’s claims and establishing Israel’s right to self-defense. The rapporteurs’ statement acknowledges the irrefutable evidence that Hamas engaged in gender-based crimes, including rape and mutilation, against Israelis during the attacks. The experts said Hamas’s crimes “constitute gross violations of international law…given the number of victims and the extensive premeditation and planning of the attacks.” The U.N.’s statements are relevant to this case as they establish that Israel had an obligation to respond militarily to the Hamas attack, and doing so is a lawful exercise of its right to self-defense

Independent experts have soundly rejected the wrongheaded claims South Africa has brought to the ICJ. Stanislav Pavlovschi, a former judge of the European Court of Human Rights, and Arsen Ostrovsky, CEO of The International Legal Forum, wrote, “If anyone is guilty of genocide here, it is the internationally recognized terrorist group Hamas.” Avner Shalev, former chairman of the Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center, argued “If we elect to label every event a ‘genocide,’ or equate every event with the Holocaust, then we detract from the real meaning of those words and reduce their ability to represent true horror . . . It would appear that the obvious, that which was not long ago perceived by most of the West to be true, now requires reiteration: There is no factual or coherent parallel that can be drawn between contemporary events in Gaza and the historic events of the Holocaust . . . In contrast, the current situation in the Middle East is a classic one of adversaries..”

The United States has called out South Africa for bringing this meritless and misplaced case to the ICJ. Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed South Africa’s case as “meritless” and said it distracts from efforts to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza. Blinken highlighted the hypocrisy of South Africa’s claims considering that “Hamas and other groups attacking Israel call for its annihilation.” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby called South Africa’s case “meritless, counterproductive, completely without any basis in fact whatsoever.”


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