Issue Brief on “A Panoramic View of South Africa’s Case at the International Court of Justice”

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The conflict in Gaza, which commenced on 7 October 2023, has now surpassed 100 days. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, the death toll has exceeded 23,000 individuals, with more than 10,000 children.

On December 29, 2023, South Africa filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague. The application, brought under Article IX of the Genocide Convention, states that Israel “intend[s] to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group, that being the part of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip”.[1] South Africa alleges that the State of Israel has failed to prevent genocide, failed to prosecute public incitement to genocide, and has directly engaged in genocidal acts in Gaza. In the 84-page submission, South Africa argued that Israel has violated the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention, a landmark legal instrument concluded in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust. The Genocide Convention, to which both Israel and South Africa are signatories, confers jurisdiction upon the ICJ, the highest legal body within the United Nations, to adjudicate disputes related to the treaty. The case also brings attention to poignant historical parallels within South Africa’s identity, as the African National Congress, its ruling party, has long drawn comparisons between Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank and its own history of apartheid, which concluded in 1994.

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