South Africa is Hamas ‘ally,’ Israel says at Hague court

Hamas has repeatedly sent official delegations to South Africa since Oct. 7, including for meetings with officials from the ruling African National Congress party.

By Andrew Bernard, JNS

On Thursday, South Africa demanded that Israel halt its military operations in Gaza, during a hearing of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. On Friday, lawyers representing the Jewish state said that South Africa’s demands were designed to support Hamas.

“South Africa purports to come before you, yet again, as a guardian of humanity,” said Gilad Noam, Israel’s deputy attorney general for international law. “In fact, it has a clear ulterior motive when it asks you to order Israel to stay away from Rafah and to withdraw all its troops from Gaza.”

“It does so in order to obtain military advantage for its ally, Hamas, which it does not wish to see defeated,” Noam added. “It is for this reason that South Africa continues to abuse the Genocide Convention, this court, and the procedure for provisional measures.”

Noam noted that on May 11, South Africa hosted a Hamas delegation in Johannesburg for the “Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine,” which reportedly “aims to rally support for the international efforts being made to dismantle the Israeli apartheid system in Palestine.”

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Hamas has repeatedly sent official delegations to South Africa since Oct. 7, including for meetings with officials from the ruling African National Congress party.

Both Israel and South Africa are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention and the Court of Justice, the highest legal body of the United Nations, has jurisdiction to hear disputes between parties about the convention.

In January, the court ruled that it was “plausible” that Palestinians had rights under the Genocide Convention but made no ruling, as South Africa had charged, on whether the Jewish state had committed genocide.

The court’s use of the word “plausible” in its ruling resulted in false widespread media reports and claims from anti-Israel activist groups that the court had determined it was “plausible” that Israel was committing genocide in Gaza.

Joan Donoghue, president of the court when the ruling was issued, explained in an interview with the BBC in April that that was not what the court had said.

“The court decided that the Palestinians had a plausible right to be protected from genocide and that South Africa had the right to present that claim in the court,” Donoghue said. “It didn’t decide that the claim of genocide was plausible.”

“The shorthand that often appears, which is that there’s a ‘plausible case of genocide’ isn’t what the court decided,” she added.

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South Africa requested on May 10 that the court modify its ruling and apply “additional measures” against Israel in response to the Jewish state’s proposed ground operation Rafah in southern Gaza.

During its half of the hearing on Thursday, South Africa demanded that the court order Israel to halt all military operations against Hamas and withdraw entirely from the Gaza Strip.

“Israel continues to show utter contempt for Palestinian life, operating with impunity,” said Vusimuzi Madonsela, South Africa’s ambassador to the Netherlands. “South Africa has no other option than to, once again, seek protection in the halls of justice for the fundamental right of the Palestinian people to their existence.”

“Although this present application was triggered by the unfolding horrific situation in Rafah, Israel’s genocidal onslaught across Gaza has intensified over the past few days, also warranting the attention of this Court,” Madonsela added.

Noam, the Israeli deputy attorney general, rejected that charge on Friday and said that South Africa was engaged in an “obscene exploitation” of the Genocide Convention.

“South Africa presents the court yet again, for the fourth time within the scope of less than five months, with a picture that is completely divorced from the facts and circumstances,” Noam said. “It makes a mockery of the heinous charge of genocide.”

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“Calling something a genocide, again and again, does not make it genocide,” he added. “Repeating a lie does not make it true.”