US blasts South Africa’s war crimes petition against Israel

‘We find this submission meritless, without any basis in fact whatsoever,’ said NSC spokesman John Kirby.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The United States slammed South Africa Wednesday for applying to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to hear charges that Israel is committing genocide in Gaza as it wars against the Hamas terror organization.

“We find this submission meritless, counterproductive, completely without any basis in fact whatsoever,” said U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby at a press briefing.

Separately, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said that the United States is “not seeing any acts that constitute genocide” by Israel in the coastal enclave.

“Genocide is one of the most heinous atrocities that any individual can commit,” he added. “Those are allegations that should not be made lightly.”

Pretoria, which cut diplomatic ties with the Jewish state following Israel’s declaration of war against Hamas after the terrorists’ October 7 invasion and massacre of 1,200 people, claimed that the IDF is deliberately attempting “to destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group.”

It is asking that the court order an end to the fighting.

Turkey, which recalled its ambassador to Israel in its own show of support for Hamas and has accused Israel of genocide as well, said Wednesday that it backed South Africa’s move.

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Israel’s foreign ministry called South Africa’s claim “a disgusting blood libel.” The top political and military echelon has reiterated numerous times how the IDF has tried to save the lives of innocent civilians in Gaza and how it targets only terrorist forces, while reminding the international community that Hamas is committing war crimes by embedding its fighters, military infrastructure, and rocket launchers among civilians in order to raise the death toll and incur sympathy.

An Israeli official said that as Pretoria is a signatory to the 1948 Convention on Genocide (as Israel is), the appeal alone automatically triggered a hearing, and it was not a sign of the court taking a side in the matter, something that Jerusalem is always suspicious of considering the anti-Israel bias in almost all UN institutions.

Israel will send an as-yet unnamed panel of legal eagles next week to The Hague, where on January 11 South Africa will pose its arguments to a cast of 15 justices, some of whom come from countries sympathetic to Israel, such as the United States, and Israel will respond the next day.

The government has not yet decided what it will do if the court rules against Israel.

“It is a decision for the political echelon to make in the event that there is an injunction of one kind or another,” a diplomatic official told journalists on Wednesday.

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Kirby has defended Israel before when the press has asked about Hamas claims of high death tolls.

“Israel isn’t trying to wipe the Palestinian people off the map,” he said on November 20, some three weeks into the ground war phase of the fighting. “Israel isn’t trying to wipe Gaza off the map. Israel is trying to defend itself against a genocidal terrorist threat. So if we’re going to start using that word, fine. Let’s use it appropriately.”