(JTA) — The first day of Israel’s trial for genocide opened at the International Court of Justice on Thursday, with lawyers from South Africa beginning to make their case that Israel is guilty of the crime against humanity in its war against Hamas in Gaza.
Israel has chosen to contest the claim in the courtroom in the Hague, and will make its case on Friday. Rejecting the genocide charge, Israeli officials have cited the country’s establishment in the wake of the Holocaust.
South Africa brought the case to the court, and its attorneys laid out their argument on Thursday, citing the breadth of Israel’s attacks and inferring intent from bellicose statements by Israeli leaders.
South African lawyers said in their presentation that Israel’s counterstrikes are of a level not merited by Hamas’ Oct. 7 massacre, which killed some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, took more than 240 hostages and launched the war. More than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, according to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, which does not differentiate between civilians and combatants.
“South Africa believes that the publicly available evidence of the scale of the destruction resulting from the bombardment of Gaza, and the deliberate restriction of food, water, medicines and electricity available to the population of Gaza, demonstrates that the government of Israel … is intent on destroying the Palestinians in Gaza as a group, and is doing nothing to prevent or punish the actions of others who support that aim,” South African lawyer Vaughan Lowe told the tribunal.
The arguments heard Thursday at the International Court of Justice in The Hague came on the first of two days of preliminary hearings, which will allow the court to consider whether to order a cessation of hostilities — though it has no way to enforce that ruling. Israel has rebuffed calls for a ceasefire.
Israel has said its response is proportional to the threat posed by the Oct. 7 attack. Additionally, Israel’s lawyers — led by Malcolm Shaw, a British barrister with extensive experience in defending countries facing human rights abuse allegations — are expected to argue that the Israeli leaders’ statements cited by South Africa are taken out of context or were made by officials who do not have the power to make decisions.
In a statement Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decried Israel having to defend itself against a statute established in the wake of the Holocaust.
“We are fighting terrorists, and we are fighting lies,” he said. “A terrorist organization carried out the worst crime against the Jewish People since the Holocaust, and now someone comes to defend it in the name of the Holocaust.”
Washington Says It Will Not Back Expanded IDF Operations in Rafah
i24 News – Medics reported that Israeli airstrikes overnight in Gaza’s Rafah claimed the lives of 17 individuals on Saturday.
The attacks come as tensions escalate, with over a million Palestinians densely packed into the border city, awaiting a potential full-scale offensive amid widespread destruction across the enclave and limited avenues of escape.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced plans for military action, aiming to evacuate Rafah’s population and dismantle four Hamas battalions allegedly stationed in the area.
As IDF prepares for an intense ground operation in Rafah, its efforts to create safe corridors for Palestinian civilians are made more difficult by the fighting ongoing throughout Gaza. @mcauliffe_marym joins @Nicole_Zedek with the latest updates: pic.twitter.com/83PJfNMEdd
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 10, 2024
Unlike previous conflicts where civilians were urged to seek refuge in southern Gaza, the current situation presents a dilemma as there are no relatively unscathed areas left, leaving residents with nowhere to flee. Aid agencies have warned of the potential for a significant loss of civilian lives should an assault on Rafah occur.
Reports from Gaza City indicate intensified fighting on Saturday, with residents reporting clashes amid the ongoing hostilities.
An Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity to Reuters, disclosed plans to coordinate the relocation of Rafah residents northward in anticipation of potential military action. However, Egypt has stated its refusal to permit mass displacement of Palestinians into its territory,.
The post Washington Says It Will Not Back Expanded IDF Operations in Rafah first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Numerous Weapons Discovered in UNRWA Premises in Gaza
i24 News – The IDF revealed that it had discovered, in the areas of Shati and Tel al-Hawa in northern Gaza, twenty terrorist infrastructure sites including a tunnel entrance near an UNRWA school. The tunnel, an “important part of Hamas’ military intelligence services,” passed under the building which serves as the main headquarters of UNRWA in the Gaza Strip.
Large quantities of weapons were found in rooms of the building, including rifles, ammunition, grenades and explosives. Intelligence and documents discovered in the offices of UNRWA officials confirmed that these offices had also been used by Hamas terrorists, the military claims.
The post Numerous Weapons Discovered in UNRWA Premises in Gaza first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Qatar Says Hamas ‘Promises’ Hostages Received Medicines, But Offers no proof
i24 News – In a recent development, Qatar has informed both Israel and France that Hamas has purportedly agreed to ensure that hostages receive the essential medicines delivered to them in the Gaza Strip.
Last month, Qatar facilitated the transfer of these crucial drugs to Gaza following a comprehensive list compiled with input from the hostages’ respective doctors. The medications in question are deemed “vital,” primarily aimed at addressing chronic illnesses among the hostages.
This development comes amidst ongoing efforts to address the welfare and medical needs of the hostages held in Gaza, with international stakeholders closely monitoring the situation for further updates.
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