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South Africa Details Israel’s Genocidal Actions in Gaza

At 10 a.m. on Jan. 11, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague sat to hear South Africa’s reasoning for its demand that the Court intervene against genocide against Palestinians being committed by the State of Israel.

South Africa’s blistering presentation at the ICJ was developed through hours of presentations that documented the violations by the State of Israel of the Genocide Convention.

Right out of the gate, the representatives of South Africa charged Israel with committing an “ongoing Nakba” against the Palestinian people, condemned the “apartheid” Palestinians continue to suffer, and insisted that “no attack, no matter how severe, can justify this violence.”

The first presentation was on the actions themselves, and how they violate the Genocide Convention. Excerpts of that presentation follow:

South Africa contends that Israel has transgressed article 2 of the convention by committing actions that fall within the definition of genocide. The actions show a systematic pattern of conduct from which genocide can be inferred.

Gaza is one of the two constituent territories of the Occupied Palestinian Territories, occupied by Israel since 1967. It is a narrow strip of approximately 365 square km…. Israel continues to exercise control over the space, territorial waters, land crossings, water, electricity, electromagnetic sphere, and civilian infrastructure in Gaza, as well as over key governmental functions….

Entry and exit by air and sea to Gaza is prohibited, with Israel operating the only two crossing points.

Gaza, which is one of the most densely populated places in the world, is home to approximately 2.3 million Palestinians, almost half of them children.

For the past 96 days Israel has subjected Gaza to what has been described as one of the heaviest conventional bombing campaigns in the history of modern warfare.

Palestinians in Gaza are being killed by Israeli weaponry from air, land and sea.

They are also at immediate risk of death by starvation, dehydration and disease, as a result of the ongoing siege by Israel, the destruction of Palestinian towns, the insufficient aid being allowed through to the Palestinian population, and the impossibility of distributing this limited aid while bombs fall.

This conduct renders essentials to life unobtainable.

The specific application of the Genocide Convention:

The first Genocidal act committed by Israel is the mass killing of Palestinians in Gaza, in violation of article 2a of the Genocide Convention.

As the UN Secretary General explained five weeks ago, the level of Israel’s killing is so extensive that nowhere is safe in Gaza. As I stand before you today, 23,210 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces during the sustained attacks over the last three months, at least 70 percent of whom are believed to be women and children. Some 7,000 Palestinians are still missing, presumed dead under the rubble. …

The second genocidal act identified in South Africa’s application is Israel’s infliction of serious bodily or mental harm to Palestinians in Gaza in violation of Article 2b of the Genocide Convention.

Israel’s attacks have left close to 60,000 Palestinians wounded and maimed. Again, the majority of them, women and children. This in circumstances where the healthcare system has all but collapsed. …

Turning to the third genocidal acts under article 2c, Israel has deliberately imposed conditions in Gaza that cannot sustain life, and are calculated to bring about its physical destruction.

Israel achieves this in at least four ways.


Israel has forced the displacement of about 85% of Palestinians in Gaza. There is nowhere safe for them to flee too. Those who cannot leave or refuse to be displaced have either been killed, or are at extreme risk of being killed in their homes.

Many Palestinians have been displaced multiple times, as families are forced to move repeatedly in search of safety.

Israel’s first evacuation order on 13 October, required the evacuation of over 1 million people, including children, the elderly, the wounded, and infirm. Entire hospitals were required to evacuate, even newborn babies in intensive care.

The order required them to evacuate the north to the south within 24 hours. The order itself was genocidal. It required immediate movement, taking only what could be carried. while no humanitarian assistance was permitted, and fuel, water and food and other necessities of life had been deliberately cut off.

It was clearly calculated to bring about the destruction of the population.

For many Palestinians the forced evacuation from their homes is inevitably permanent. Israel has now damaged or destroyed an estimated 350,000 Palestinian homes, leaving at least half a million Palestinians with no home to return to.

Actions deliberately calculated to cause widespread hunger, dehydration and starvation.

Israel’s campaign has pushed Gazans to the brink of famine. An unprecedented 93% of the population in Gaza is facing crisis levels of hunger. Of all the people in the world currently suffering catastrophic hunger, more than 80% are in Gaza. …

Just three days ago, on 8 January, a planned mission by UN agencies to deliver urgent medical supplies and vital fuel to a hospital and medical supply center was denied by Israeli authorities. This marked the fifth denial of a mission to this center since 26 December, leaving five hospitals in northern Gaza without access to lifesaving supplies and equipment.

Denial of adequate shelter, clothes or sanitation:

For weeks, there have been acute shortages of clothes, bedding, blankets and critical non-food items. Clean water is all but gone, leaving far below the amount required to safely drink, clean and cook.

Accordingly, the WHO has stated that Gaza is experiencing soaring rates of infectious disease outbreaks. Cases of diarrhea in children under five years of age have increased 2,000% since hostilities began. When combined and left untreated, malnutrition and disease create a deadly cycle.

Israel’s military assault on Gaza’s healthcare system renders life unsustainable:

Even by 7 December, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health noted that the healthcare infrastructure in the Gaza strip has been completely obliterated.

Those wounded by Israel in Gaza are being deprived of lifesaving medical care.

Finally, the UN Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women and Girls, has pointed to acts committed by Israel that would fall under the fourth category of genocidal acts, in Article 2d of the Convention.

On 22 November she expressly warned the following:

“The reproductive violence inflicted by Israel on Palestinian women, newborn babies, infants and children, could be qualified as acts of genocide under Article 2 of the genocide convention, including imposing measures intended to prevent births within a group.”


In sum, Madam president, all of these acts individually and collectively form a calculated pattern of conduct by Israel indicating a genocidal intent.

This intent is evident from Israel’s conduct in specially targeting Palestinians living in Gaza; using weaponry that causes large-scale homicidal destruction, as well as targetted sniping of civilians; designating safe zones for Palestinians to seek refuge, and then bombing these; depriving Palestinians in Gaza of basic needs—food, water, healthcare, fuel, sanitation and communications; destroying social infrastructure, homes, schools, mosques, churches, hospitals; and killing, seriously injuring and leaving large numbers of children orphaned. …

Every day there is mounting irreparable loss of life, property, dignity and humanity for the Palestinian people.

Our news feeds show graphic images of suffering that has become unbearable to watch. Nothing will stop the suffering except an order from this court.

Without an indication of provisional measures, the atrocities will continue, with the Israeli Defense Force indicating that it intends pursuing this course of action for at least a year.

In the words of the UN Under Secretary General on 5 January 2024, I quote:

“You think getting aid into Gaza is easy? Think again. Three layers of inspections before trucks can even enter. Confusion and long queues. A growing list of rejected items. A crossing point meant for pedestrians not trucks. Another crossing point where trucks have been blocked by desperate, hungry communities. A destroyed commercial sector. Constant bombardments, poor communications, damaged roads, convoys shot at, delays at checkpoints, a traumatized and exhausted population crammed into a smaller and small sliver of land, shelters which have long exceeded their full capacity. Aid workers themselves displaced, killed. This is an impossible situation for the people of Gaza and for those trying to help them. The fighting must stop.”