The White House on Wednesday slammed South Africa’s genocide case against Israel that was filed at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), one of the UN’s top courts based in The Hague.
When asked about the 84-page lawsuit South Africa has filed against Israel, White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said, “We find this submission meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever.”
If Israel is found guilty of genocide by the ICJ, it would implicate the US as it’s providing weapons and political cover for Israel’s operations in Gaza with no conditions or red lines. The US has also justified Israel’s attacks on civilian areas and has shrugged off the massive civilian casualty rate as the price of the operation.
The case against Israel could take years, but South Africa is asking the ICJ to immediately declare Israel is committing acts that could be considered genocidal and issue an interim order to halt its military operations, according to Haaretz. Hearings on the interim order are scheduled for January 11 and 12, and Israel is preparing to defend itself, signaling it is worried about the case.
The ICJ has no power to enforce its order for Israel to halt military operations or to take action if it determines Israel is committing genocide. But the ruling would deal a major diplomatic blow to the US and Israel.
South Africa has a strong case against Israel since over 22,000 Palestinians, mostly women and children, have been killed by Israel’s onslaught on Gaza in just less than three months. Over 50,000 Palestinians have been wounded, and nearly 90% have been displaced internally.
Genocide is defined by Article II of the UN’s Genocide Convention as “a crime committed with the intent to destroy a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, in whole or in part.” Intent to commit serious physical harm against a group needs to be shown to prove a state is guilty of genocide at the ICJ.
South Africa has included quotes from Israeli officials in its lawsuit that show Israel’s intent of “committing genocidal acts” or its failure to prevent them. When the onslaught first started, Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced a total siege on Gaza and said the Israeli military was fighting “human animals” in the enclave.
Another quote included in South Africa’s lawsuit is one from Israeli President Isaac Herzog, saying there are no innocent civilians in Gaza. “It’s an entire nation out there that is responsible. It’s not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware, not involved. It’s absolutely not true. … and we will fight until we break their backbone,” Herzog said.