Israel to defend military actions in Gaza at International Criminal Court

Top Netanyahu adviser says Jerusalem plans to fight South Africa petition for interim order demanding immediate suspension of Gaza hostilities
In an unprecedented move, Israel plans to present its case at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, aiming to dismiss South Africa's petition for an interim order demanding the immediate suspension of Israeli military actions in Gaza, National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi told Ynet on Monday.
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Hanegbi clarified this rare action, saying, "Israel, a long-standing signatory to the Genocide Convention, will not boycott the proceedings. We will participate and refute the absurd accusation that amounts to blood libel."
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בית הדין לצדק בהאג
בית הדין לצדק בהאג
International Criminal Court; Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
(Photo: AP /Peter Dejong, Alex Kolomoisky)
South Africa claims that Israel's actions constitute "genocide in nature," thereby violating its commitment under the Genocide Convention.
"The Jewish people have experienced genocide more profoundly than any other nation," Hanegbi said, "with six million of our people brutally slaughtered. A similar cruelty was inflicted on Israeli citizens in the massacre of October 7, but this time we have the capability to defend ourselves against those seeking our destruction. The absurd petition against the right of the victim to self-defense is disgraceful, and we expect all civilized nations to stand with our determination."
The decision from the discussions is that Israel will attend the hearing for an interim order, usually scheduled one to one and a half months after submission, to contest South Africa's claim. The hearings regarding the claim may extend over four to six years. Israel's immediate focus, however, is on preventing an interim order that might force a cease-fire in Gaza.
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הצהרתו של ראש המל"ל צחי הנגבי
הצהרתו של ראש המל"ל צחי הנגבי
National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi
(Photo: GPO)
Israel also plans to employ diplomatic pressure to rally support against South Africa and its initiative. Israel has substantial legal arguments to dismiss South Africa's claim, one being the lack of dispute in international forums that Israel committed genocide in Gaza. Even South Africa has not previously made such a claim, and Israel has not had to respond to such an accusation. It is still unclear which Israeli representative will appear before the court, whether it will be a diplomat, a lawyer or another high-ranking Israeli official.
Israel was informed of the lawsuit last Friday. South Africa, known as one of the Palestinians' staunchest supporters in the international community, has consistently criticized Israel, often drawing parallels between the Palestinian struggle and the black resistance against the apartheid regime in the previous century.
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נשיא דרום אפריקה סיריל רמפוזה
נשיא דרום אפריקה סיריל רמפוזה
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa
(Photo: AP)
In 2018, South Africa recalled its ambassador from Israel and has not appointed a successor since. Last month, in response to the attacks in Gaza, South Africa withdrew all its diplomats and announced a reevaluation of its diplomatic ties with Israel.
Amid escalating tensions between the nations, Jerusalem's Foreign Ministry recalled its ambassador to South Africa for discussions. The action protests recent severe remarks from top South African figures, notably President Cyril Ramaphosa, who accused Israel of perpetrating genocide in Gaza. Ramaphosa, seeking an investigation by The Hague's International Court into alleged Israeli "war crimes and crimes against humanity," declared Gaza "a concentration camp."
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