May 2, 2024 | Flash Brief

Turkey Poised to Join South Africa’s Genocide Lawsuit Against Israel at ICJ

May 2, 2024 | Flash Brief

Turkey Poised to Join South Africa’s Genocide Lawsuit Against Israel at ICJ

Latest Developments

Turkish Foreign Minister Hakan Fidan announced on May 1 that Turkey plans to join South Africa’s genocide complaint against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). “Upon completion of the legal text of our work, we will submit the declaration of official intervention before the ICJ with the objective of implementing this political decision,” Fidan said during a press conference. Since January, Ankara has provided documents to the ICJ supporting South Africa’s case and presented arguments in another ICJ case targeting Israel on February 26. 

Fidan’s announcement came one day after 34-year-old Turkish national Hasan Saklanan stabbed an Israeli border police officer at Herod’s Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City before Saklanan was fatally shot by the policeman’s partner. According to media reports, Saklanan, who was the imam of a mosque in the Turkish municipality of Kepez, entered Israel on a tourist visa as part of a religious tour. 

Expert Analysis

“Since the October 7 Hamas atrocities, Turkey and its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have unceasingly demonized Israel, comparing its leaders to the Nazis and feting Hamas terrorists with red carpet welcomes. So, we shouldn’t be surprised by Turkey’s turn to lawfare in its bid to weaken Israel’s security and question Israel’s right to self-defense. The Biden administration and Congress cannot allow this decision by Turkey’s rulers to go unchallenged.” — Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“By outwardly offering his support to Hamas, it is clear that Erdogan is willing to compromise Turkey’s reputation as an ally of the West. Attaching Turkey’s name to South Africa’s lawsuit is a new frontier of lawfare for Erdogan. It builds upon Ankara’s material support offered to the terrorist entity since 2011. Erdogan’s priority couldn’t be clearer: Champion Hamas at all costs, confirming suspicions that Turkey’s sole purpose in the Gaza war is to empower terrorists.” Sinan Ciddi, FDD Non-Resident Senior Fellow

South Africa’s Ongoing Lawfare Against Israel

South Africa submitted an application to the ICJ on December 29, alleging that Israel is violating the Genocide Convention, which defines genocide as one of several specified acts, including killing members of a group, when such acts are “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group as such.” Israel called the accusation a blood libel, and U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said on January 3 that the case was “meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever.” Following hearings on January 11-12, the ICJ issued a provisional order on January 26 that rejected South Africa’s request to order Israel to halt its military operations in Gaza. On February 16, the court also rejected South Africa’s “urgent request for additional measures” to restrict Israel’s future operations in Rafah. 

Erdogan’s Continued Threats Against Israel

Since Hamas’s massacre in Israel on October 7, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has positioned Turkey as one of Israel’s foremost critics. During a pro-Hamas rally on October 28, Erdogan called Israel’s defensive actions in Gaza a “massacre” and said that Turkey is preparing to “tell the whole world that Israel is a war criminal.” Erdogan has also compared Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, falsely accused Israel of committing “genocide” in Gaza, and called on multiple occasions for Israel and its leaders to be tried at the ICJ and International Criminal Court (ICC). 

Hamas Chief Meets Turkish President, Considers Move From Qatar to Turkey,” FDD Flash Brief

ICJ Rejects South Africa’s New Attack Against Israel,” FDD Flash Brief

ICJ Rejects Gaza Ceasefire Demand, Urges Hostages Released,” FDD Flash Brief

The ICJ’s New Chief Judge Has a History of Bias Against Israel,” by Orde Kittrie


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