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South Africa Suit Proves Israeli Blockade of Gaza’s Food, Water, Fuel, Medicine Is Genocide

Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu's government is accused of violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Credit: UN Photo/Cia Pak

South Africa’s Dec. 29 filing with the UN’s International Court of Justice, charges that the present Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is violating the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, and that the UN needs to order the immediate halt to Israel’s military operations. Israel was a signer—and back in 1948 a promoter—of the Convention on Genocide. South Africa will present the initial part of their case to the ICJ on Jan. 11, dealing with the call for immediate, provisional measures to stop the ongoing harm.

Genocide is defined, in the Convention, as acts such as killings “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” South Africa’s 84-page filing says that Israel’s actions “are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part” of the Palestinians in Gaza. They have killed (as of Dec. 29) more than 21,110 named Palestinians with more than 7,780 missing. “Israel has also laid waste to vast areas of Gaza,” damaging over 355,000 homes. They have forced “the evacuation of 1.9 million people or 85% of the population,” herded them “into ever smaller areas, without adequate shelter,” while continuing to attack them militarily. It refers to 75 years of apartheid, 56 years of “belligerent occupation of Palestinian territory” and 16 years of blockading Gaza.

Importantly, besides the killings and serious injuries by military actions, Israel is also charged with “inflicting on [Gazans] them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction as a group.” Israel has failed “to provide or ensure essential food, water, medicine, fuel, shelter and other humanitarian assistance for the besieged and blockaded” people of Gaza.

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