The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has begun a hearing on whether Israel is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
This comes after the South African government formally sued the Israeli government at the ICJ on Dec. 29, 2023, saying Israel is committing genocidal acts against Palestinians in Gaza.
On day one of the hearing on Thursday Jan. 11, South African lawyer Adila Hassim outlined the four ways that South Africa says Israel is committing genocide according to the 1948 Genocide Convention.
The convention – an international treaty created in the aftermath of the Holocaust that has been signed by 152 states, including both Israel and South Africa – defines genocide as any of the following acts committed with the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnic, racial or religious group”.
1. Killing members of the group;
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
3. Deliberately imposing living conditions intended to destroy the group
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
Hassim presented evidence that Israel has committed and is committing the first four acts, from dropping 6,000 bombs a week to kill more than 23,000 Palestinians and injure another 60,000 since Oct. 7, most of whom are women and children, to imposing measures to starve the population in Gaza, deprive them of clean water and obliterating the healthcare system.
“Genocides are never declared in advance, but this court has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence,” she said.
She and the team of international lawyers representing South Africa urged the court to institute an emergency order to stop Israel from committing further crimes in Gaza as an official judgement may take years.
Hassim also pointed out that the court had previously instituted an emergency order against Myanmar in the Rohingya genocide case in 2019 and called on the court to intervene.
“Every day, there is mounting, irreparable loss of life, property, dignity and humanity for the Palestinian people,” she said. “Nothing will stop the suffering, except an order from this court.”