Israel has commenced its opening argument at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to counter South Africa’s allegation that the conflict with Hamas constitutes genocide against Palestinians. Israel vehemently denies the accusation, with its legal representation in the ICJ courtroom asserting that the term “genocide” is being weaponized.
While the case is anticipated to be a protracted process, South Africa is urging the ICJ to promptly halt Israel’s military operations in the Gaza Strip. The conflict was triggered by an October 7 Hamas attack from Gaza into southern Israel resulting in approximately 1,200 casualties and 250 individuals being held hostage by militants.
Israel’s air, ground and sea offensive in Gaza has reportedly claimed over 23,000 lives, with around 70% of the casualties being women and children, according to the Health Ministry in the Hamas-ruled territory. The casualty count does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
Outside the International Court of Justice, pro-Palestinian protesters gathered chanting “Free Palestine” and “Viva South Africa” displaying Palestinian flags and holding placards reading “Stop bombing Gaza.”
Despite Israel’s customary boycott of international tribunals and U.N. investigations, citing perceived unfairness and bias, the seriousness with which they approach this case is evident. Israeli leaders have taken the unusual step of dispatching a legal team and actively engaging with the ICJ to safeguard their reputation.