After South Africa’s submissions yesterday, Israel now takes the stand at ICJ an says it has an ‘inherent right’ to defend its citizens

Friday, January 12, 2024
 – The State of Israel’s legal team took the stand at the International Criminal Court to counter South Africa’s genocide allegations in The Hague on Friday.

Tal Becker, Legal Adviser in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the State of Israel, told the court that Israel was defending itself in a war “it did not start nor want” and South Africa's request to indicate a provisional measure to suspend its military operation amounted to an attempt to deny Israel its ability to meet its obligation to defend its citizens.

South Africa urged an immediate halt to Israeli military operations, presenting evidence of alleged genocidal acts. The case, addressing violations of the Genocide Convention, accused Israel of mass killings, harm to Palestinians, and explicit genocidal intent by political leaders.

However, Becker said this was a war where Israel was defending itself against Hamas, Palestinian Jihad and other terrorist groups.

"The civilians suffering in this war, like all wars, is tragic and heartbreaking," he said.

Israel has further accused South Africa of placing before the court “a profoundly distorted factual and legal picture”.

According to Becker, South Africa’s case hinged on a “deliberately curated, decontextualised and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities”.

Becker described the October 7, 2023 attack as "wholesale massacre, mutilation, rape and abduction" of many Israeli citizens.

He said Israel had the “inherent right” to take all legitimate measures to defend its citizens and secure the release of the hostages taken in the October 7 attack.

“South Africa is not offering the court a lens, it is offering a blindfold,” he said.

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