In the second day of court proceedings before the International Court of Justice, Israel made its defense against South Africa’s accusations of genocide.
The ICJ, also known as the World Court, is based in The Hague in the Netherlands and was set up in June 1945. It hears cases brought by states accusing others of violating their UN treaty obligations.
Here’s a recap of what’s been happening:
What’s the case? South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. South Africa hopes to convince the court to order a halt to Israel’s military campaign by issuing “provisional measures.”
What did South Africa say? South Africa’s lawyers accused Israel of intending to “bring about the destruction” of Gaza’s Palestinian population through its unrelenting air and ground assaults. It also argued that comments made by Israeli leaders signaled their “genocidal intent.” While South Africa condemned the Hamas’s October 7 attacks, it said “nothing” could justify Israel’s response.
How did Israel respond? Israel vehemently denied the accusation of genocide, describing South Africa’s presentation before the ICJ on Thursday as a “profoundly distorted factual and legal picture.”
It argued that if genocidal acts have been committed, they were perpetrated against Israel. Lawyers described Hamas’ acts on October 7 as genocidal in nature and evidence of Hamas’ leaders “proudly declared agenda of annihilation.”
By issuing evacuation orders and forewarning civilians of pending action, Israel argued they demonstrated the “precise opposite of genocidal intent.”
Israel’s lawyers argued South Africa’s accusation was an attempt to “pervert the meaning of genocide.”
What happens next? In the coming days and weeks, the ICJ’s panel of judges will decide whether to grant South Africa’s request to order a halt to the Gaza offensive. A final ruling from the court on whether it believes Israel has committed genocide could take years.