Israel Defends Actions in Gaza Amid Genocide Accusations at the International Court

Accused of committing genocide against Palestinians, Israel staunchly defended its military operations in Gaza at the United Nations’ highest court on Friday. A day prior, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vehemently dismissed the allegations as hypocritical, decrying them as an “upside-down world” while facing charges of genocide. Israel, established in the aftermath of the Holocaust, faced the accusations brought by South Africa in one of the largest cases before an international court, drawing global attention and protesters from both sides.

South African lawyers urged the court on Thursday to immediately halt Israeli military operations in Gaza, home to 2.3 million Palestinians. While a decision on this request is expected in the coming weeks, the full case may extend over several years.

“We live at a time when words are cheap in an age of social media and identity politics. The temptation to reach for the most outrageous term to vilify and demonize has become, for many, irresistible,” expressed Israeli legal advisor Tal Becker at the Palace of Peace in The Hague.

Becker highlighted, “South Africa has regrettably put before the court a profoundly distorted, factual, and legal picture. The entirety of its case hinges on a deliberately curated, decontextualized, and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities.”

While Israel commonly boycotts international tribunals, citing unfairness and bias, it has taken the unusual step of sending a high-level legal team to address the gravity of the accusations.

At the core of the case are Israel’s actions in Gaza, where a massive air and ground assault followed the crossing of Hamas militants into Israel on Oct. 7. The assailants killed around 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and abducted over 250 individuals, with more than half still in captivity. According to Gaza’s Health Ministry, over 23,000 people have been killed during the military campaign, with nearly 85% of Gaza’s population displaced, a quarter facing starvation, and significant areas reduced to rubble.

South Africa contends that Israel’s actions amount to genocide and are part of decades of oppression against Palestinians. Lawyer TembekaNgcukaitobi asserted, “The scale of destruction in Gaza, the targeting of family homes and civilians, the war being a war on children — all make clear that genocidal intent is both understood and has been put into practice. The articulated intent is the destruction of Palestinian life.”

Netanyahu rejected these claims, stating, “This is an upside-down world — the state of Israel is accused of genocide while it is fighting genocide. The hypocrisy of South Africa screams to the heavens.”

Contrary to South Africa’s allegations, Israel argues that it is acting in legitimate self-defense. The court must assess whether Israel’s operations comply with international agreements governing the conduct of war, even in response to severe attacks.

While the court’s findings are binding, it remains uncertain if Israel would comply with any order to halt military operations. Non-compliance could lead to U.N. sanctions, potentially vetoed by the United States, Israel’s steadfast ally. The White House refrained from commenting on potential responses if the court determines Israel committed genocide, with National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby dismissing the allegations as “unfounded.”

The case delves into one of the world’s most intractable conflicts, prompting protests for a second consecutive day outside the court. Pro-Israeli demonstrators commemorated hostages held by Hamas, while over 100 pro-Palestinian protesters voiced their concerns.

This case strikes at the core of Israel’s national identity, founded as a Jewish state in the aftermath of the Nazi Holocaust. Israel contends it is combating a formidable enemy responsible for the deadliest attack on its territory since its establishment in 1948. The nation asserts adherence to international law and efforts to minimize harm to civilians, attributing the high death toll to Hamas militants operating in residential areas.

South Africa seeks to broaden the case beyond the Israel-Hamas war, highlighting a history of systematic oppression and violence against Palestinians over the last 76 years. Justice Minister Ronald Lamola emphasized, “Mothers, fathers, children, siblings, grandparents, aunts, cousins are often all killed together. This killing is nothing short of destruction of Palestinian life. It is inflicted deliberately. No one is spared. Not even newborn babies.”

Approximately two-thirds of the casualties in Gaza are women and children, according to health officials. The case, unprecedented in its scope, raises questions about the responsibilities of nations in situations resembling genocide. The world court, which adjudicates disputes between nations, has never previously held a country responsible for genocide, with the closest instance being in 2007 when it ruled that Serbia “violated the obligation to prevent genocide” during the Bosnian enclave massacre in Srebrenica.

India Levels Series with Resounding Victory Over South Africa in Shortest-Ever Test Match

India secured a convincing seven-wicket victory over South Africa at Newlands in the second test, leveling the two-match series at 1-1 in a match that concluded within five sessions. In a pursuit of a modest target of 79, India finished their second innings at 80 for three, strategically countering a challenging wicket that still favored the bowlers.

Rohit Sharma led the charge, remaining unbeaten at 16, while Shreyas Iyer contributed 4 runs. The wickets of Yashasvi Jaiswal (28), Shubman Gill (10), and Virat Kohli (12) were the only setbacks for the Indian side.

The brevity of the match, completed in 642 balls, raised eyebrows, setting a new record for the shortest-ever test match with a decisive winner, surpassing Australia’s 656-ball victory over South Africa in 1932. Reflecting on the achievement, India’s captain Rohit Sharma commented, “Obviously it’s a great feat, but having said that we had to learn from whatever mistakes we made (in the first test). The bowlers still have to put the ball in the right areas and the boys got rewarded for it. When you come to this part of the world, it’s always difficult, but we take pride in our performance outside of India.”

South Africa, winning the toss and opting to bat, faced a dire situation in their first innings, getting dismissed for a mere 55 on a record-breaking opening day. However, they made a comeback by restricting India to 153 in their first innings, a phase where the visitors lost six wickets without adding a single run, an unprecedented occurrence in 147 years of test cricket.

Jasprit Bumrah emerged as the star performer for India, claiming six wickets for 61 runs. His exceptional line and length, coupled with poor shot selection from the South African batsmen, played a crucial role in dismantling the home side. The hosts were bowled out for 176 in their second innings just before lunch on the second day, setting the stage for India’s triumph.

Aiden Markram provided a glimmer of resistance for South Africa, scoring a rapid 106 despite challenging conditions. His century, achieved in 99 balls, was an impressive display of skill. However, Markram’s aggressive approach cost him dearly, as he mistimed a delivery from Mohammed Siraj, resulting in a skied shot caught by Rohit Sharma at mid-off. Markram’s innings included 17 fours and two sixes.

Reflecting on the match, South Africa’s retiring captain, Dean Elgar, expressed disappointment over their poor first innings with the bat. “A tough one for us, we were positive coming into the game, but the first innings with the bat… India bowled well and used the conditions to a tee,” he remarked. Elgar defended his decision to bat first, stating, “It (the wicket) was a bit of a ripper, to the naked eye it looked a nice one, but it played different to what everyone thought it would play. I still don’t regret my decision to bat first, but they outskilled us in the first session.”

The series, now leveled at 1-1, has seen a reversal of fortunes for both teams. South Africa dominated the first test, winning by an innings and 32 runs, while India showcased resilience and adaptability to claim victory in the second test. As the cricketing world reflects on this intriguing series, the focus will undoubtedly shift to the upcoming matches, with anticipation building for more competitive and enthralling encounters between these two cricketing giants.