top of page
  • Writer's pictureDemi Lynch

EXPLAINER - South Africa Accuses Israel Of Genocide At The World Court

What is the world court and why is everyone talking about it?

The world court, also known as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), is the highest United Nations legal body. The court’s role is to settle, in accordance with international law, legal disputes submitted between member states. 

Why has South Africa taken Israel to the world court? 

South Africa is accusing Israel of committing genocide against the people of Gaza. They claim Israel intends to "destroy Palestinians in Gaza as a part of the broader Palestinian national, racial and ethnic group." They also claim Israel failed to prevent genocide and failed to prosecute officials who have publicly incited genocide.

So what’s the actual court process for this case?

The lawsuit was filed at the end of December and is being heard this week at the International Court of Justice at The Hague in the Netherlands.⁠ The court will decide if the alleged acts violate the Genocide Convention. If the court decides to implement an interim measure this would put a legal obligation on Israel to end its onslaught. The court’s ruling is final and cannot be appealed, however, it's still unclear if Israel will actually comply with this ruling. A provisional ruling is expected within weeks, however, a final ruling could take years. 

South Africa’s legal team at the International Court of Justice.

What is Genocide Convention? 

The United Nations 1948 Genocide Convention was established in the aftermath of the Holocaust. It defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole

or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or relgious group." It has been ratified by

153 countries, including Israel. 

What does Israel have to say about this?

Less than 24 hours before the ICJ hearings, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemned the case. "Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population," the Prime Minister claims, "Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not

the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law."

So what exactly is happening  in Gaza right now? 

  • In just over three months, over 23,000 Palestinians have been killed by the Israel Defence Force, 40% of those being children.

  • Homes, hospitals, schools and refugee camps have been bombed.

  • 85% of the population is displaced. 

  • More than 1,000 children have lost one or both of their legs. 

  • 79 journalists have been killed.

  • 50,000 pregnant women have no access to medical care.

  • There is little to no food, water, shelter, electricity and medical supplies.

  • People are already dying from starvation. 


Header Image Source: Getty Images


bottom of page