Israel accuses South Africa of exploiting ICJ, acting for Hamas

A humanitarian-aid airdrop over northern Gaza, as seen from Israels southern border with the Gaza Strip on 7 March 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

A humanitarian-aid airdrop over northern Gaza, as seen from Israels southern border with the Gaza Strip on 7 March 2024. (Photo by JACK GUEZ / AFP)

  • Israel says South Africa is cynically using the International Court of Justice.
  • In response to SA urging the court to prevent starvation in Gaza, Israel again said SA acts as “the legal arm of Hamas”.
  • The ICJ should reject SA’s latest legal gambit, Israel said. 

Israel on Thursday accused South Africa of “cynical exploitation” of the International Court of Justice after Pretoria again requested emergency measures over the war in Gaza.

Citing “widespread starvation” in the Palestinian territory, South Africa on Wednesday petitioned the ICJ to order an “immediate halt” to five months of fighting between Israel and Hamas militants.

Israel accused South Africa of being “representatives of Hamas” and called on the court to reject Pretoria’s latest request.

“South Africa continues to act as the legal arm of Hamas in an attempt to undermine Israel’s inherent right to defend itself and its citizens, and to release all of the hostages,” foreign ministry spokesman Lior Haiat said in a statement.

“Israel acts and will continue to act in accordance with international law, including by facilitating humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip, regardless of any legal proceedings,” the Israeli ministry said.

“We call on the ICJ to reject outright the new request of the representatives of Hamas.”

SEE ALSO | Make Israel halt its attack on Gaza or Palestinians will starve, SA tells ICJ in new filing

In a ruling in mid-January that made headlines worldwide, the ICJ, based in The Hague, ordered Israel to do everything it could to prevent genocide during its offensive in Gaza.

This week marked the second time Pretoria has asked the court for additional measures — its first request in February was denied.

Pretoria said this second application may be “the last opportunity that this court shall have to save the Palestinian people in Gaza already dying of starvation, and now ‘one step’ from famine,” citing the United Nations humanitarian agency.

The UN has warned famine is looming in the Gaza Strip where desperate crowds have stopped and looted food aid trucks.

Dire shortages of food and water amid Israel’s offensive in the Palestinian territory have killed at least 20 people, according to the health ministry in Hamas-run Gaza.

In its January ruling, the court also said Israel must allow aid into Gaza to ease the desperate humanitarian situation.

Although ICJ rulings on disputes between states are legally binding, the court has little means to enforce its judgements.

The war began after Hamas launched the October 7 attack on southern Israel that resulted in about 1,160 deaths, most of them civilians, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.

Militants also took around 250 hostages, some of whom were released while Israel estimates 99 remain alive in Gaza and 31 have died.

Israel’s retaliatory offensive has killed at least 30,800 people, mostly women and children, according to the territory’s health ministry.

– Additional reporting by Reuters

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