Justice Minister Ronald Lamola led South Africa’s delegation to the peace palace in The Hague on Thursday, where the country has submitted its case over Israel’s attacks on Gaza.
Lamola accompanied by top officials of the South African government asked the court to examine the possibility of Israel committing genocide in the Palestinian territory, where over 23, 000 people, mostly innocent civilians have been killed.
“No armed attack on a state’s territory, no matter how serious, even an attack involving atrocity crimes, can provide any justification for, or defence to, breaches to the convention,” Lamola said.
Israel has waged a relentless three-month long attack on Gaza, in retaliation for the killing of 1,200 people in Israel by Palestinian militant group, Hamas, and South Africa is asking the world’s top court to determine whether this is tantamount to genocide.
South Africa captured the world’s attention since it lodged its case against Israel in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) late December.
The United States considered the case as meritless and baseless, the United Kingdom (UK) says accusations of genocide against Israel could be seen as inflammatory.
Justice Department spokesperson Chrispin Phiri: “Speaking on this, Minister Lamola says we are determined to see the end of the genocide that is currently taking place in Gaza. We are encouraged by leaders of the world who have not blunted their consciousness and have stood on the right side of history by supporting a case that seeks to protect the rights of human beings – regardless of their nationality or ethnicity.”
The South African delegation included director general in the presidency Phindile Baleni, international relations director general Zane Dangor and justice director general Doc Mashabane. Presidential advisor Nokukhanya Jele will round out the group.
“South Africa unequivocally condemned the targeting of civilians by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups—and the taking of hostages—on the 7th of October… That said, no armed attack (…) no matter how serious—even an attack involving atrocity crimes—can provide any justification for, or defense to, breaches to the Convention, whether as a matter of law or morality. Israel’s response to the 7th of October, 2023 attack has crossed this line, and give rise to the breaches of the Convention. Faced with such evidence and our duty to do what we can do to prevent genocide as contained in Article 1 of the Convention, the South African government initiated this case.”
The South African contingent is also expected to be joined by several political figures from other nations, including former UK labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who pleaded on Monday with the UK government in the House of Commons to support South Africa’s case.
According to statistics from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Gaza contributes over 31% to the GDP of Palestine.