The International Court of Justice is scheduled to commence the hearing of the case in which South Africa accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza starting this Thursday.
Currently, five countries, among them the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, along with Jordan, Turkey, and Malaysia, have openly expressed their support for the case, while only Israel and the United States have opposed it.
South Africa filed the lawsuit at the end of December, accusing Israel of genocide in its war on Gaza and seeking a halt to the brutal military assault that has killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, nearly 10,000 of them children.
The 84-page filing by South Africa says Israel violated the 1948 Genocide Convention, drawn up in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust.
Both Israel and South Africa are signatories to the United Nations Genocide Convention, which gives the ICJ, the highest UN legal body- jurisdiction to rule on disputes over the treaty.
All states that signed the convention are obliged to not commit genocide and to prevent and punish it. The treaty defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”.
Bolivia also pointed out that it had earlier filed a request with International Criminal Court (ICC) Prosecutor Karim Khan, along with South Africa, Bangladesh, Comoros, and Djibouti, to investigate the situation in Palestine. Khan said he received the request on November 30.
The ICC and the ICJ are sometimes confused with one another. Both courts are located in The Hague, Netherlands. While the purpose of the ICJ is to resolve conflicts between states, the ICC prosecutes individuals for committing crimes. While states cannot be sued at the ICC, the prosecutor can open an investigation where crimes, including genocide, were likely committed.
The United States has voiced its opposition to the genocide case. National security spokesperson John Kirby called South Africa’s submission “meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis” during a White House press briefing on January 3.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog told US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday that “there is nothing more atrocious and preposterous” than the lawsuit. Herzog also thanked Blinken for Washington’s support of Israel.
Israel’s Western allies, including the European Union, have mostly maintained silence on the ICJ case.
The United Kingdom, which has refused to support the case, has been accused of double standards after it submitted detailed legal documents to the ICJ about a month ago to support claims that Myanmar committed genocide against the Rohingya community.