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Department of international relations and co-operation director-general Zane Dangor, left, and SA ambassador Vusimuzi Madonsela at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, May 16 2024. Picture: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN
Department of international relations and co-operation director-general Zane Dangor, left, and SA ambassador Vusimuzi Madonsela at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands, May 16 2024. Picture: REUTERS/YVES HERMAN

Israel has defended the military necessity of its Gaza offensive at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), after SA asked judges to order it to halt operations in Rafah and completely withdraw from the Palestinian territory.

Israeli justice ministry official Gilad Noam called SA’s case, which accuses Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, “completely divorced from facts and circumstances”.

“[The case] makes a mockery of the heinous charge of genocide,” Noam said.

Before Israel’s presentation, several dozen pro-Israeli protesters gathered outside, displaying photographs of hostages taken by Hamas fighters on October 7 and demanding their release.

More than 35,300 Palestinians have been killed in Israel’s seven-month assault on Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian health officials said on Thursday. The war began when Hamas militants attacked Israel on October 7, killing 1,200 Israelis and abducting 253 others.

On Thursday, SA’s ambassador to the Netherlands, Vusimuzi Madonsela, requested the court to order Israel to “immediately, totally and unconditionally, withdraw the Israeli army from the entirety of the Gaza Strip”.

The SA legal team framed the Israeli military operation as part of a genocidal plan aimed at bringing about the destruction of the Palestinian people.

In past rulings, the court has rejected Israel’s demands to dismiss the case and ordered it to prevent acts of genocide against Palestinians while stopping short of ordering it to halt the assault.

Reuters

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