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Israel submitted a response on Feb. 12 to South Africa’s second, emergency request to the World Court on Feb. 12. The response begins and ends by attacking South Africa as “ally of Hamas terrorists” and for abusing the International Court of Justice. It expresses a dismissal of the Court’s authority regarding its conduct in Gaza: “Israel … wishes to reiterate that its commitment to the observance of international law, including the Genocide Convention and international humanitarian law, is unwavering and applies—as Israel has demonstrated in word and deed—in relation to the present hostilities in Gaza and independently of any proceeding before the Court.”

Nonetheless, Israel’s leaders have felt the pressure to reply in language recognizing the Court’s competence and claiming that its order for the release of hostages was equivalent to its orders to Israel to stop killing Palestinian civilians, immediately take steps to ensure that humanitarian aid can reach those civilians, stop taking actions which prevent births in the Palestinian population, and stop its ministers and other officials from calling ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Against this, the preposterous gist of Israel’s various legal points in this three-page response, is that “nothing has changed,” and “nothing further has happened” since Jan. 26 when the Court issued its preliminary decision. Thus, ignore that 3,000 settler leaders, ministers and officials of Israel’s government held a rally for settlements in Gaza in which ministers and settlers demanded ridding Gaza of Palestinians. Ignore that thousands more civilians have been killed, tens of thousands more wounded; that specific, large shipments of food aid have been blocked by Israel from entering Gaza; that international agencies see famine and disease spreading; that more hospitals have been forced to close or damaged beyond use; that more than 1 million homeless have been forced into one city of 250,000, in winter; and bombing begun on that city.

Of all this, Israel argues, “South Africa refers in its request to ‘a significant development in the situation in Gaza,’ but there has been nothing of the sort.” The Court, however, may well have eyes to see and ears to hear.