Israel defended this Friday, May 17, 2024, at the International Court of Justice, ICJ, that its war in Gaza is “tragic” and has “a terrible human price”, but denied a “genocide”and asked the court not to get involved in “the micromanagement of operational aspects of an armed conflict” in the case initiated by South Africa, which it accused of being an “ally” of Hamas.

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Israel’s legal team argued in The Hague that the war in Gaza is “tragic and terrible, for Israelis and Palestinians, and has exacted a terrible human toll, but it is not genocide”, according to Israel agent Gilad Noam, during a hearing that ended up interrupted by shouts of “liars, liars” from a woman in the audience.

The Israeli Government once again criticized South Africa for daring to accuse the Jewish State of “genocide” and “evoking terminology reminiscent of the systematic extermination of European Jews” during the Holocaust. “How far South Africa has fallen. “These accusations directed at Israel are patently false and emphatically denied,” Noam stated.

Israel responded this Friday to Pretoria’s request to the ICJ to issue additional precautionary measures to those it already issued in January and March, and which did not then include a ceasefire order, given the Israeli military offensive in the city of Rafah, the southern tip of Gaza, from where at least 450,000 Gazans have already fled.

South Africa has a clear ulterior motive when it asks (the ICJ) to demand that Israel stay away from Rafah and withdraw all its troops from Gaza. He does this to gain military advantage for his ally, Hamas, whom he does not wish to see defeated.”Noam argued.

According to Israel, South Africa received a delegation from the Islamist group in Johannesburg six days ago to “continue its campaign against Israel” and “did not use the meeting to urge Hamas to release the hostages, stop attacking Israeli civilians, cease the use of human shields, and stop operating from and near hospitals, UN facilities and other protected sites.”

In addition, he assured that the death toll figures published by Hamas are not correct and include deaths also caused by fire from the Islamist group.

Operational aspects

Noam also justified that, “As is the case in all armed conflicts, incidents may occur involving alleged violations of the norms that regulate” hostilities and considered this a “reality that is not unique to Israel” because “no State is infallible” from violating the laws of war.

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“Israel’s independent and robust legal system addresses all allegations of misconduct,” he promised. According to him, since the start of the war, the Military Advocate General opened 55 criminal investigations into incidents that “raise reasonable suspicions of criminal misconduct” during hostilities.

In this sense, he asked the court to reject South Africa’s request because it “runs the danger” of being “involved in the micromanagement of operational aspects of an armed conflict.”

For the Israeli Government, the examples mentioned by South Africa to accuse Israel of having genocidal intent towards the Palestinians are “individual incidents reported in the media.”

According to Tel Aviv, Pretoria tries to “present as evidence of illegal policies.” But, she warned, “exceptional incidents are just that, exceptional” and should not be considered “a fact until a proper examination is carried out.”

The Israeli legal system knows how to draw a line between statements that are troubling and even obscene, but still fall within the right to freedom of expression in a democratic society, and those statements that go beyond that right.”, he stressed.

Furthermore, he asserted that policy and instructions on the war in Gaza come from the ministerial committee on National Security Affairs and the war cabinet, “not from various social media accounts or interviews,” and accused South Africa of making “exaggerated” statements. or taken out of context.”

“Armed conflict is not synonymous with genocide,” said Noam, who maintained that Israel acts “in accordance with its international legal obligations,” including the prohibition of genocide.

South Africa denounced on Thursday the “institutionalized impunity” that allows Israel to continue the “annihilation of the Palestinian people” and “reduce most of it to rubble” from Gaza, and asked the court to demand that Israel “in a clearly explicit way” the cessation of its military operations.

The panel of judges has now retired to deliberate on the need for new injunctions, which are always legally binding, although the ICJ has no mechanisms to enforce them.

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