THE HAGUE: The United Nations’ top court said on Friday that at least some rights sought by South Africa in its genocide case against Israel’s war in Gaza are plausible.
With the reading still ongoing, the court said it recognises the right of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide.
Palestinians appear to be a protected group under the genocide convention, the court said.
Friday’s ruling at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) does not deal with the core accusation of the case – whether genocide occurred – but will focus on the urgent intervention sought by South Africa.
The ICJ could in theory order Israel to stop its military campaign in Gaza, sparked by the October 7 attacks by Hamas, or to facilitate humanitarian aid.
At this stage, the ICJ is weighing emergency orders while it considers the wider accusation of genocidal acts in Gaza – a process likely to take years.
Civilians trapped in Gaza’s south, Hague decision looms
South Africa has brought the case, accusing Israel of breaching the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, set up in the ashes of World War II and the Holocaust.
Pretoria “does not need to prove that Israel is committing genocide,” said Juliette McIntyre, international law expert from the University of South Australia.
“They simply need to establish that there is a plausible risk of genocide occurring,” she told AFP.
Over two days of hearings earlier this month in the gilded halls of the Peace Palace in The Hague, a world away from the violence in Israel and Gaza, robed lawyers battled over the technicalities of the Genocide Convention.
“Genocides are never declared in advance,” declared Adila Hassim, a top lawyer for South Africa.