January 12, 2024 — New York, NY
For the past two days, the world has been forced to listen to the hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the outrageous case filed by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
The accusation of genocide against Israel, a state born in the shadow of the Holocaust during which six million Jews were systematically exterminated, is enough to cause deep pain and anger to the Israeli people, the global Jewish community, and friends and allies around the world.
That the accusation is made against a state that is acting in self-defense following Hamas’ murder, mutilation, rape, and pillaging of 1,200 people, and the kidnapping of 240 hostages, makes it that much more outrageous.
The hypocrisy and absurdity is deepened by the fact that Israel has always taken and is currently taking extraordinary measures to prevent Palestinian deaths and provide humanitarian aid to the Gaza strip, while it operates in an incredibly complex war zone in which Hamas imbeds itself in the civilian population, uses Palestinians as human shields, manufactures and stores and fires missiles from within civilian infrastructure, and attempts to divert aid intended for civilians to support its operations.
The South African delegation’s libelous attack against the State of Israel ignores the reality of Hamas’ October 7 attack and the facts on the ground of the Israel-Hamas war. Its distorted arguments are an affront to justice and a distraction from the actions of Hamas, the sole entity with genocidal intentions. Moreover, the measures South Africa seeks the Court to impose would reward Hamas and its commission of brutal acts of terrorism against those who stand for humanity.
Despite the disbelief and anguish caused by these proceedings, we feel great pride that, in the face of egregious allegations, the Israeli delegation clearly demonstrated that Israel is acting out of necessity to protect its people and that the IDF is not only acting within the confines of international law, but goes to unprecedented lengths to protect the Palestinian people – all while fully acknowledging the tragic reality that civilians have died in its war against Hamas and mourning that loss. Israel’s affirmation that it fully intends to continue using protective measures that are in line with international law and reflect Israel’s core values is all the more laudable given that it is fighting a lawless adversary that actively seeks to endanger civilians, facts that South Africa shamefully omitted.
Just as the United States, Germany, and others have stood up for what is right, the rest of the international community must do the same and decry the speciousness of South Africa’s baseless charges and the harm that would result from the measures it seeks, which would incentivize the same tactics and make more likely the future commission of the same acts of evil that Hamas perpetrated on October 7.
As the Court’s judges deliberate the provisional measures request, there is only one possible just outcome: Israel’s right to continue its war of self-defense against Hamas and eliminate the threat it poses to both the Israeli and the Palestinian people, in line with international law, must be affirmed. There is simply no other choice.
AJC is the global advocacy organization for the Jewish people. With headquarters in New York, 25 offices across the United States, 14 overseas posts, as well as partnerships with 38 Jewish community organizations worldwide, AJC’s mission is to enhance the well-being of the Jewish people and Israel and to advance human rights and democratic values in the United States and around the world. For more, please visit www.ajc.org.