January 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Prepares Defense Against ‘Genocide’ Charge as International Court Convenes

January 11, 2024 | Flash Brief

Israel Prepares Defense Against ‘Genocide’ Charge as International Court Convenes

Latest Developments

Israel restated its concern for the safety of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, and its commitment to the eventual return of those displaced by the war, as it prepared to fend off genocide allegations at The Hague. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) convened on January 11 to hear a case initiated by South Africa arguing that the Israeli counter-offensive against Hamas terrorists has included genocidal acts. Israel, which is due to deliver its response at the ICJ on January 12, has described the suit as a blood libel and Pretoria as the lawfare arm of Hamas.

White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby condemned South Africa’s submission as “meritless, counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever.” In addition, the U.S. State Department has described the allegations against Israel as “unfounded.” “Israel has the right to defend itself against Hamas’ terrorist acts — acts that Hamas has vowed to repeat again and again until Israel is completely destroyed,” the State Department said.

This has been echoed in Germany, which plans to present its own legal opinion. Reminding reporters that a finding of genocide requires the intended destruction of a people based on nationality, ethnicity, race or religion, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, “I cannot detect any of this intention by Israel in its self-defense against an armed terror group, Hamas.”

The Palestinians have sought falsely to cast the mass-evacuation of Gaza civilians away from combat zones as a form of ethnic cleansing. In a January 10 statement, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reasserted that such measures were humanitarian precautions. “Israel has no intention of permanently reoccupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population,” he said. “Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law.”

Expert Analysis

“It is a dismal day when Israel, haven for the survivors of the Holocaust, is brought up before the court created in the hope of preventing another Holocaust. One trusts the Israeli defense will ably turn the tables on this farce and remind the world that Hamas, on October 7, proved that it is the actual genocidal party in this conflict.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“South Africa fails to provide any substantive evidence, because there is none, that Israel is either committing or intending to commit genocide. Indeed, Israel’s advance warnings and other steps to mitigate harm to Gaza civilians make clear Israel’s goal is not genocide but, far from it, to minimize Palestinian civilian casualties while lawfully exercising Israel’s rights to free hostages, apprehend October 7 atrocity perpetrators, and ensure Israel’s population is secure from further attacks.” — Orde Kittrie, FDD Senior Fellow

“South Africa’s mendacious case against Israel serves Hamas’s strategy of causing Israeli and Palestinian civilian casualties — through terrorism and human shields — and getting the international community to blame Israel. Not only does this harm Israel, but it also undermines the pillars of the international order by creating a double standard that applies only to the Jewish state.” — David May, FDD Research Manager and Senior Research Analyst

Israel’s long war,” by Clifford D. May

UN Experts to Investigate Allegations of Hamas Sexual Violence as Crimes Against Humanity,” FDD Flash Brief

Hamas Tunnel Found Near School, Rocket Launcher Near Kindergarten,” FDD Flash Brief

South Africa Wages Lawfare Against Israel at the ICJ,” by Orde Kittrie and David May

Issues:

International Organizations Israel Israel at War Lawfare Palestinian Politics