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International News: Israel defends actions in Gaza at UN Court; Faces genocide allegations

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2024. 7:51 pm CST.

By Horace Palacio: Israel has staunchly defended its military actions in Gaza, countering allegations of committing genocide against Palestinians. During a hearing on January 12th, 2024, Israel argued that its war in Gaza was a legitimate defense against Hamas militants, whom they accuse of genocide.

The allegations, brought forward by South Africa, were described by Israel as hypocritical. Israel’s legal advisor, Tal Becker, emphasized in The Hague’s Palace of Peace that the nation is fighting a war it neither started nor desired. Becker firmly rejected the genocide allegations, attributing the civilian suffering in war to the brutal nature of conflict rather than intentional genocide.

Germany announced its intention to intervene in the proceedings on Israel’s behalf, dismissing the accusations of genocide as baseless. German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit asserted Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas, which the U.S. and its Western allies consider a terrorist group.

The case, which has significant implications, saw the International Court of Justice (ICJ) being asked to order an immediate halt to Israeli military operations in Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians. Israel presented evidence of the brutality of the Hamas attacks on October 7, including tortures and killings, to support its defense.

The Palestinian Authority praised South Africa’s initiative, citing Israel’s systematic violations under the Genocide Convention. However, Malcolm Shaw, part of Israel’s legal team, contested the claims of genocidal intent, pointing to Israel’s measures to protect civilians and blaming Hamas for using residential areas for military purposes.

The case has stirred considerable international attention, with protests both for and against Israel occurring outside the court. The issue taps into the deep historical and national identities of both Israel and South Africa, given their respective histories with the Holocaust and apartheid.

As the hearings concluded, the court’s decision on urgent measures is awaited, which could have far-reaching implications for one of the world’s most enduring conflicts.

 

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