Israeli Officials Fear ICJ Could Charge Israel with Genocide in Gaza – Reports

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The Hague-based International Court of Justice. (Photo: ICJ website

By Palestine Chronicle Staff

Israeli officials are concerned that the Hague-based International Court of Justice (ICJ) will charge Israel with genocide in Gaza, Israeli media reported. 

According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, “a senior legal expert dealing with the matter has in recent days warned IDF brass, including Chief of Staff Herzl Halevi, that there is real danger that the court will issue an injunction calling on Israel to halt its fire, noting that Israel is bound by the court’s rulings”.

Unlike the International Criminal Court (ICC), which pursues private individuals, the International Criminal Justice settles legal disputes between states. 

The Court’s judgment is “final, binding on the parties to a case and without appeal”.

The appeal to the court was filed by South Africa on December 29. It accused Israel of “indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of residents,” stating that Israeli actions in the besieged Gaza Strip constitute “crimes against humanity and war crimes.”

“South Africa has requested that the court discuss the matter in the coming days and issue a temporary injunction against Israel that calls for a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip,” Haaretz reported.

Prof. Eliav Lieblich, an expert on international law at Tel Aviv University, told Haaretz that South Africa’s complaints should be taken seriously. 

“Extremist statements by senior Israeli officials could be seen as evidence of an intent to harm Gaza’s civilian population,” Haaretz mentioned Lieblich as saying.

“In general, it’s hard to prove an intention of genocide because no public statements to that effect are made during the fighting,” he explained, according to Haaretz. 

“But these irresponsible statements about erasing Gaza will require Israel to explain why they don’t reflect such an intention.”

South Africa’s Application

The application filed by Pretoria “alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in relation to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip,” the ICJ said in a press release on December 29.

“Acts and omissions by Israel … are genocidal in character, as they are committed with the requisite specific intent … to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group,” the statement read.

“The conduct of Israel – through its State organs, State agents, and other persons and entities acting on its instructions or under its direction, control or influence – in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, is in violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention,” the statement added, citing the application.

South Africa also accused Israel of “failing to prevent genocide” and “prosecuting the direct and public incitement to genocide” in the application.

“Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza,” the African country reportedly said.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 21,978 Palestinians have been killed, and 57,697 wounded in Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza starting on October 7. Palestinian and international estimates say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

(The Palestine Chronicle)

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