South Africa's Case Against Israel Is So Much More Than You Think
It might not end the war, but it will dramatically change the global political landscape around the West and Israel.
Big news hits differently over Christmas. In that tired, not knowing the day of the week, half-drunken and indigestion-suffering period between Boxing Day and New Year, we have the time to reflect and truly appreciate the scope of breaking news. Anyone who was around for the 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami can attest to this. We had a similar moment this past festive period when, on Dec 29th, South Africa raised a searing watertight case against Israel in the International Court of Justice, accusing them of genocide against Palestine. At face value, this might seem like par for the course of this conflict. After all, accusations of Israel committing genocide in Gaza have reached a deafening crescendo over the past few months, and this seems to be the logical next step to ratify this growing chorus. But dig a little deeper, and you will see there is far more at stake. This case not only threatens to levy one of the most heinous crimes against the Israeli state, but also drastically change the balance of global power and influence and even shake up the current global political landscape. All because of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Once again, I feel I must state that I am explicitly criticising the Israeli state here, not the people of Israel, and definitely not Judaism. I also denounce Hamas. They 100% committed war crimes on Oct 7th, and those responsible should be brought to justice. Got it? Right, let’s crack on.
The argument that Israel isn’t committing genocide in Gaza is becoming ever more tenuous by the day. There is a vast plethora of evidence left behind by the IDF and their destruction of Gaza, which I have covered before, that points to illegal and indiscriminate attacks that amount to collective punishment, a form of genocide. There is also the heinous rhetoric bouncing around the Israeli state. There are open plans to forcibly migrate (as in they aim to “encourage migration” while bombing the crap out of them) Gazans to the Sinai desert, or even the Congo, to bring an end to the war. Israel’s far-right finance minister even said that “Israelis who would replace the Palestinians [in Gaza] would ‘make the desert bloom’.” These are blatant calls for ethnic cleansing, which the UN defines as “rendering an area ethnically homogeneous by using force or intimidation to remove persons of given groups from the area.” The ethnic cleansing that took place in Yugoslavia during the 90s was considered genocide by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), and as such, there is a precedent, and the UN regards ethnic cleansing as a form of genocide.
As such, the onus is not whether South Africa or others can prove Israel is committing genocide, but whether Israel can prove it isn’t. Keep that in mind as we dig deeper.
The case South Africa has levied against Israel is far from a rushed-together document. It is dripping with verifiable, cohesive and numerous citations, and the legal language is far from obscure, painting a watertight case against the Israeli state. This document has been crafted by some of the most respectable and brilliant legal minds over weeks, if not months. I highly recommend you read the 80-page document for yourself (here) if you have the time.
But many of you don’t have the time, so what has South Africa actually accused Israel of?
South Africa has accused Israel of committing genocide in Gaza in violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention, of which Israel is a signatory member. The convention defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”. The genocidal actions listed in the suit include the killing of Palestinian civilians, especially children, in large numbers, the expulsion and displacement of Palestinians in Gaza and Israel’s blockades of food, water, medical supplies and medical assistance to Gaza. The case even accuses Israel of destroying essential health services crucial for the survival of pregnant women and babies, a direct and highly illegal effort to kneecap the Palestinian population’s recovery from this conflict. South Africa doesn’t stop there and accuses Israel of other violations of international law in the Gaza Strip, such as assaults on Palestinian culture by attacking sites of “religion, education, art, science, historic monuments, hospitals and places where the sick and wounded are collected”.
The case states that these actions “intended to bring about their [Palestinians] destruction as a group.” With the vast amount of supporting evidence coming out of Gaza, it is hard to argue against this conclusion. Those who do argue against it have to justify why such destruction is viable, as denying its existence is now impossible. As such, their counterarguments so far surmount to being illogical, racist, Islamophobic or just straight-up attempts to justify genocide.
Israel’s reaction to this case has been surprising, to say the least, as they are going along with the process.
You see, for decades, Israel has boycotted the UN’s International Court of Justice (ICJ), as it, along with many other UN courts and reports, has repeatedly found Israel’s occupation of Palestine past its 1967 borders illegal. Rather than stand and defend itself, it boycotted the courts and used its backers, the US, UK and EU, who have massive sway in the UN, to ensure the ICJ can’t investigate Israel. This is, of course, the actions of an innocent party…
But it couldn’t do that this time. South Africa requested that the case be fast-tracked to ensure Israel’s destruction of Gaza doesn’t continue while the courts grind on. As such, the ICJ has scheduled the case’s first hearing in The Hague for the 11th and 12th of January. Bearing in mind that a recent UN meeting called for a ceasefire after the US vetoed such a vote. Moreover, the South African case states, “The court does not have to determine that all of the acts complained of are capable of falling within the provisions of the [1948 Genocide] convention.” It suffices that “at least some of the acts alleged … are capable of falling within the provisions of the convention”. As such, If Israel is not in the room, the chances that it will be found guilty are sky-high. It has to stand and defend itself, and therefore it has to be a part of the ICJ for the first time in decades.
As always, the Israeli propaganda machine used hyperbole to defend itself, decrying that the South African court action is “calling for the destruction of the State of Israel”. Which, let’s be clear here, it isn’t. If Israel defended itself within the scope of international law, which it is perfectly capable of, South Africa would not have raised the case.
But is the case that rock solid? After all, the accusations here are extreme and require considerable, verifiable and cohesive evidence.
If you read the 80-page case, you will see that South Africa has this in spades. They have reams of condemning statements made by Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin, that demonstrate “genocidal intent”. One notable example is Netanyahu’s comparison of Palestinians to the Amalek, a biblical nation that God instructed the Israelites to destroy. The biblical verse states: “Now go and smite Amalek … kill both man and woman, infant.” The explicit military scope of the IDF is cited as proof of their claims of indiscriminate bombings, executions of civilians and blockades of food, water, medicine, fuel, shelter and other humanitarian assistance. These claims are further backed by a vast plethora of independent, cooperating sources with a history of accuracy, such as the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, UN, UN meetings process releases, Al Jazeera, Rudaw, Reuters, AP news, The Economist and other media reports, multiple trustworthy governmental statements from unconnected countries, the Israeli state’s own statements on the war, Amnesty International, B’Tselem, Oxfam, Human Rights Watch, WHO, UN Special Rapporteur Francesca Albanese, UNRWA, IDF statements, Human Rights Council reports and others.
So, to overturn South Africa’s case, you’d have to either find a way to discredit these cohesive and corroborating sources or find a hole in the case’s incredibly well-supported narrative. Neither of which seems probable.
But, here is where this case shows its wider-reaching influence.
You see, US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby recently denounced South Africa’s case as being without merit and that the court submission was “counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever” during a recent White House press briefing.
As we have just gone over, the evidence alone in the South Africa case gives it more than enough merit to reach the ICJ. Therefore, Kirby’s stance is demonstrably false. He, nor anyone else, has any cohesive counterargument that undermines the evidence South Africa has. So, the question has to be asked: why is he clutching at straws to defend Israel?
Well, if the case concludes with a charge of genocide against Israel, there is no hiding for Israel or any of its supporters. You see, the 1948 Genocide Convention Article 1 states that all 150 contracting parties will be obliged to “prevent” a genocide once it is proven. What’s more, Article 3 of the convention means that those who have supported and enabled the genocide with knowledge of it can be held (effectively) criminally culpable.
The US, UK and most EU countries are members of the 1948 Genocide Convention. What’s more, these countries have routinely supported Israel and even given (and continue to give) billions of dollars of military aid and supply military equipment to Israel. Why? As I have covered before, Israel is the West’s strong arm over the Middle East and OPEC to secure oil for themselves and have a controlling hand in the oil market. Biden has even admitted to this, as during a speech to the Senate in 1986, Biden said, “It’s about time we stop apologising for our support for Israel. There’s no apology to be made. It is the best $3 billion investment we make. If there weren’t an Israel, the United States of America would have to invent an Israel to protect her interests in the region.”
Israel is not a singularity here. The US and other Western countries have used similar tactics for decades worldwide to secure resources, protect interests, and keep themselves on top. You can see this in the CIA’s meddling in South America, Vietnam, the Gulf Wars and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, to name just a few.
This is why South Africa’s case is so impactful. Not only does it stand to halt Israel’s genocide against Palestine, but it also threatens to hold its backers to account. As such, the West’s decades-old morally corrupt tactics of keeping global power balanced in its favour are threatened to be exposed and shut down (at least partly).
As such, Kirby’s defensive stance makes complete sense. This case seriously threatens US “security” by taking power away from them.
Make no mistake, South Africa’s case could be one of the century’s most important international criminal cases. Its results will not only determine the future of 2 million Gazan Palestinians, but also how international law is implemented going forward. It will dramatically influence the entire global geopolitical landscape, whatever the verdict, and possibly even reset the global balance of influence and power. As such, a seismic shift is just over the horizon, and we should brace for the fallout.
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