Faceoff in The Hague
GPM # 44
On January 11 and 12 in The Hague, the international community’s highest judicial body, the International Court of Justice, heard arguments for and against the proposition that Israel is committing genocide in its war on Gaza.
South Africa is asking the court to issue an injunction bringing Israel’s genocidal war to a halt. A provisional measures order, this would be called.
In an 84-page submission to the ICJ, lawyers for South Africa argue that Israel’s assault on Gaza matches the definition of genocide set forth in the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The ICJ will take years to adjudicate the merits of South Africa’s claims. That provisional measures order will be issued in the next few weeks.
The court’s response to South Africa’s application turns largely on one question: Are Israeli political and military leaders “deliberately inflicting … conditions of life calculated to bring about [the] physical destruction [of the Gazan people], in whole or in part,” as genocide is defined under the Convention?
It’s a tough question. Nothing harder than proving genocidal intent among those in charge of the killing.
One thing is clear: genocidal rhetoric permeates the Israeli government, military and society, from the top down.
Listen to South African attorneys Adila Hassim and Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, then Irish attorney Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh, arguing South Africa’s case before the 15 regular and two ad hoc judges of the International Court of Justice on the first day of court hearings, January 11, 2024.
Click on the play button above, or go here.
Listen to Adila Hassim, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh’s complete presentations to the ICJ here:
Genocide – the “crime of crimes,” but a tough one to prove. Genocide verdicts have been issued by special criminal tribunals and the ICJ, in cases involving the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the 1995 Srebrenica massacre, committed by Serbian militias against 8000 Bosnian men and boys, and Myanmar.
Israel will be much harder to nail. Unlike Rwandan Hutu, Serbian and Myanmar military chiefs, Israel has fast friends in Washington, Ottawa, London, Brussels and Berlin.
I spoke about South Africa’s genocide case against Israel with a leading genocide scholar. William Schabas is a professor of international law at Middlesex University in the UK, and professor of international humanitarian law and human rights at Leiden University in the Netherlands.
Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast. Click on the play button above, or go here.
Thanks to Dan Weisenberger for his wonderful guitar instrumentals.