Israel says South Africa serving Hamas in latest bid to World Court

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 3:14 PM

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – South Africa’s latest request to the World Court against a possible offensive by Israel in southern Gaza serves Hamas and is an attempt to stop Israel from defending itself, the Israeli Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.

South Africa on Tuesday asked The International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider whether Israel’s plan to extend its offensive in Gaza into the city of Rafah requires additional emergency measures to protect Palestinians’ rights.

Israel has said it is planning to expand its ground assault into Rafah, where over a million Palestinians have sought refuge from the offensive that has laid waste to much of the Gaza Strip since Hamas militants attacked Israel on Oct. 7.

“South Africa continues to represent the interests of the Hamas terrorist organization and is trying to deny Israel the fundamental right to defend itself and its citizens,” said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lior Haiat.

The ICJ last month ordered Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent its troops from committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, in a case brought by South Africa.

“Israel is committed to upholding international law, including facilitating the transfer of humanitarian aid and preventing harm to innocents, while the Hamas terrorists are hiding behind the civilian population in the Gaza Strip and are holding 134 people hostage,” Haiat said on X.

Israel has denied all allegations of genocide in connection with its war against Islamist armed group Hamas, which is sworn to Israel’s destruction, and has asked the court to reject the case outright, saying it was baseless.

The court has not yet ruled on the core of the case brought by South Africa – whether genocide has occurred in Gaza. But it recognised the right of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide.

(Reporting by Maayan Lubell; editing by Diane Craft)