South Africa has taken Israel to the United Nations International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the country of committing genocide in its military campaign in Gaza. ICJ is urged to issue provisional measures for an immediate ceasefire.

The South African application alleges that Israel’s actions in Gaza amount to genocide, intending to destroy a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnic group. This move utilises Article IX of the Genocide Convention, which allows any state party to bring a case to the ICJ against another state, even without a direct link to the conflict.

The application argues that provisional measures are crucial to preventing further severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people under the Genocide Convention. South Africa cites examples of statements from Israeli officials, such as Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s reference to Palestinians in Gaza as “human animals” and Major General Ghassan Alian’s statement about treating “human animals” in Gaza with destruction, as evidence of genocidal intent.

Despite the potential lengthy legal process, South Africa seeks urgent provisional measures from the ICJ, pointing out the urgency given the polarisation and dysfunction of the UN Security Council. The ICJ’s previous rulings in cases involving the Gambia and Myanmar and Croatia and Serbia establish precedents for such claims.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) currently investigates potential war crimes and crimes against humanity involving both Hamas and Israel, focusing on individuals.

Israel vehemently rejected the case and Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson labelled it a “blood libel” devoid of both factual and legal basis.

The ICJ’s provisional measures, though legally binding, face enforcement challenges, often relying on the political organs of the UN.