January 26, 2024 — New York, NY
South Africa’s outrageous case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) was dealt a major blow today, as the Court plainly rejected South Africa’s request for Israel to be ordered to cease its defensive military operation against Hamas in Gaza.
“It is a travesty that the ICJ did not throw out South Africa’s baseless genocide charges against Israel entirely and prevent this unnecessary and libelous spectacle from dragging on for years to come,” said Ted Deutch, CEO of American Jewish Committee (AJC). “Nevertheless, the Court’s order today thwarted South Africa’s primary objective in launching this case: to turn the Genocide Convention on its head and use it as an ‘aggressor’s charter’ to prevent Israel from defending its citizens against Hamas’ brutality and continued terror.”
In its decision today, the ICJ ordered Israel to carry out acts that its representatives had affirmed at the January 12 hearing that they are already doing and intend to continue. The Court further rejected South Africa’s request for Israel to be ordered to “desist” from committing specific acts that South Africa alleged would be indicative of genocide in Gaza. The Court repeatedly stressed that it had not determined that any violations of the Genocide Convention had occurred. The Court also indirectly acknowledged the disparity in the proceedings, which address only Israel and not Hamas, noting all parties’ obligations under international humanitarian law and calling for the “immediate and unconditional” release of all hostages abducted by Hamas and other armed groups on October 7.
“As we commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day, amidst unprecedented levels of antisemitism worldwide, leaders must recognize that South Africa’s outrageous attempt to distort popular understanding of the meaning of the term ‘genocide’ and use it as a weapon against Israel is not only deeply insulting to Jews; it fuels hatred of Jews everywhere and greatly increases the danger that many already face,” added Deutch. “We must not let outrageous accusations against Israel distract from the reality that Israel has every right to defend itself against Hamas’ brutality and free the 136 hostages who have been held in captivity for 112 days in the most horrendous conditions.”
Israeli officials have repeatedly emphasized, to the Court and elsewhere, their commitment to abiding by Israeli and international law, even though Hamas relentlessly violates international law; to facilitate increasing quantities of humanitarian assistance and access to health care in Gaza; and to enforce Israel’s laws prohibiting any hate speech calling for civilians to be harmed.
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