The International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, has officially announced the scheduling of South Africa’s application hearing. The hearing, which will take place in The Hague, Netherlands, is set to be held on Thursday of next week.

By Staff Reporters

Israeli airstrikes, in retaliation to a Hamas attack on 7 October 2023, have entirely wiped out a large number of families in Gaza. The bombings have led to enduring difficulties, including limited access to medical treatment for injuries, food shortages, and the spread of diseases due to the disruption of clean water supply caused by damaged infrastructure.

“An estimated 1,779 Palestinian families in Gaza have lost multiple family members, and hundreds of multigenerational families have been killed in their entirety, with no remaining survivors — mothers, fathers, children, siblings, grandparents, aunts, cousins — often all killed together.

“By 7 November last year, 312 Palestinian families in Gaza had lost over 10 members each. Numerous Palestinian families have lost upwards of 70 members each.

“The level of mortality in Palestinian families is such that medics in Gaza have had to coin a new acronym: ‘WCNSF’, meaning ‘wounded child, no surviving family’.

“For the families who remain intact or partially intact, it’s about doing everything you can so your child doesn’t realise that you’ve lost control.”

This information is part of South Africa’s submission ( SOUTH AFRICA-APPLICATION INSTITUTING PROCEEDINGS) to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to start legal action against Israel for breaching its responsibilities under the Genocide Convention.

Next Thursday, the International Court of Justice in The Hague is set to hear South Africa’s application. A legal team consisting of senior counsels John Dugard, Max du Plessis, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, and Adila Hassim, along with junior lawyers Sarah Pudifin-Jones, Lerato Zikalala, and Tshidiso Ramogale, as well as external counsels Vaughan Lowe KC and Blinne Ní Ghrálaigh KC, is working on the application.

In its submission, South Africa highlights the use of unguided bombs and heavy bombs weighing up to 900kg by Israel in Gaza. The submission emphasises the impact on the densely populated area where a significant number of casualties have occurred.

The document’s introduction, as presented by the South African legal team, highlights the actions taken by the Government and military of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people: “This Application concerns acts threatened, adopted, condoned, taken and being taken by the Government and military of the State of Israel against the Palestinian people, a distinct national, racial and ethnical group, in the wake of the attacks in Israel on 7 October 2023.

“South Africa unequivocally condemns all violations of international law by all parties, including the direct targeting of Israeli civilians and other nationals and hostage-taking by Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups.

“No armed attack on a State’s territory, no matter how serious — even an attack involving atrocity crimes — can, however, provide any possible justification for, or defence to, breaches of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (‘Genocide Convention’ or ‘Convention’), whether as a matter of law or morality.

“The acts and omissions by Israel complained of by South Africa are genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group, that being the part of the Palestinian group in the Gaza Strip (‘Palestinians in Gaza’).

“The acts in question include killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction. The acts are all attributable to Israel, which has failed to prevent genocide and is committing genocide in manifest violation of the Genocide Convention, and which has also violated and is continuing to violate its other fundamental obligations under the Genocide Convention, including by failing to prevent or punish the direct and public incitement to genocide by senior Israeli officials and others.”

The team cautioned that the conflict will have long-lasting effects on the people involved. These effects will not only be limited to physical injuries but also emotional and psychological scars.

Israel’s legal team is scheduled to present their argument to the court on the day following the scheduled presentation of the South African team.

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