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The South African delegation presented, this Thursday (11), its initial allegations in the first accusation made against Israel at the UN International Court of Justice (ICJ), for the massacre of the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip.

Pretoria accuses the Jewish State of committing war crimes that violate the 1948 Genocide Convention. This Wednesday (10), Itamaraty released a statement supporting the South African complaint.

At the Peace Palace in The Hague, the country’s delegation, led by Justice Minister Ronald Lamola and Professor John Dugard of the University of the Witwatersrand, gave a three-hour presentation to the 15 ICJ judges, in which they detailed the five main “acts genocides”, in addition to indicating “provisional measures” to protect the rights of Palestinians in Gaza “from imminent and irreparable losses”.

Almost a hundred days after the outbreak of war, almost 24 thousand people, mostly civilians, were killed in the strip. The actions are a response by the Israeli far right to a Hamas incursion into southern Israel on October 7, in which around 1,200 people were killed and more than 200 kidnapped.

“No armed attack on the territory of a State, however serious it may be […]justifies the violation of the convention [Internacional contra o Genocídio de 1948],” said South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola.

South Africa accuses Israel of having “genocidal motivation” against the population of Gaza, imposing conditions on the enclave that cause the deaths of Palestinians and the destruction of their territory.

The accusation also holds Israel responsible for promoting apartheid. Professor Dugard, responsible for the prosecution’s legal strategy, in an interview in 2015, went so far as to say that Israeli actions are infinitely worse than the racial segregation regime in South Africa.

“I am a South African who lived through apartheid and I have no hesitation in saying that Israel’s crimes are infinitely worse than those committed by the apartheid regime,” he said in a 2015 interview.

Top five genocidal acts

Mass killings, physical and mental harm, forced displacement and food blockade, destruction of the healthcare system and prevention of Palestinian births. These were the main accusations made by the South African team this Thursday.

According to Adila Hassim, one of the lawyers who joined the team, “the first genocidal act is the mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza”. Hassim showed the court photos of mass graves where bodies, “often unidentified,” were buried.

The lawyer highlighted Israel’s use of more than 2,000 bombs with highly destructive effects in areas of Gaza that the army itself had declared safe. More than 1,800 families lost several relatives, while others were completely decimated.

“No one was spared, not the babies, and especially the children,” she added.

The second act of genocide, according to the lawyer, “is the infliction of serious mental and bodily harm by Israel” on the people in Gaza. Close to 60,000 people were injured and mutilated, most of them women and children, in a place where the health system collapsed.

Hassim cited the arrest of a large number of Palestinians, including children, who were stripped naked and loaded onto trucks to an unknown destination. “The suffering of the Palestinian people, physical and mental, is undeniable,” she said.

In the third act of genocide, Hassim stated that Netanyahu’s government promoted population displacements and blocked water and food. For the prosecution, Israel deliberately imposed these conditions that do not allow the support of human life, in addition to being calculated to provoke the destruction of Gaza.

Hassim says thousands of Palestinian families have been displaced multiple times, and half a million no longer have a home. She cites how Israel ordered entire hospitals to evacuate within 24 hours, with no assistance in moving the wounded or moving medical supplies.

The lawyer also mentioned the blockade of food and water in the Gaza Strip, causing widespread hunger.

Hassim added that Israel also deliberately imposed conditions that deny adequate shelter, clothing, bedding and other essential non-food items. She said there is no clean water for drinking, cleaning and cooking, and that cases of illness, including diarrhea, are rising. She said more Palestinians could die from hunger and disease, but the siege continues.

The fourth genocidal action, Hassim said, is Israel’s military attack on Gaza’s healthcare system, which makes life unsustainable. Gaza’s health care was already strained by years of Israeli attacks, she said, and now, it is simply unable to deal with the large number of injured people requiring medical treatment.

Lastly, Israel makes it difficult for Palestinian babies to be born. “The reproductive violence inflicted by Israel on women, newborns, babies and children can be qualified as acts of genocide.”

Provisional measures

South Africa’s legal team prioritized the request for precautionary measures to end the conflict in the enclave. Among the immediate measures requested are: the suspension of Israeli military operations in and against Gaza; ensuring that the Israeli military (or any related forces) stops offensive operations; an end to the murder and displacement of the Palestinian people; the normalization of access to food, water, infrastructure and health; and that Israel take “all reasonable measures within its power” to prevent a ge


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