Home AFRICAN STORY Global Dynamics: South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel And International Responses

Global Dynamics: South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel And International Responses

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South Africa’s Hague bid against Israel’s Gaza campaign gains global support from Latin America to Southeast Asia.

Israel criticizes the case as “absurd,” while South African lawyers receive praise from Palestinian supporters online.

The ICJ will decide Friday on emergency orders for Israel; the genocide claims resolution may take years.

“The ICJ must see the frustration of the international community,” said Hikmahanto Juwana, international law professor at the University of Indonesia.

“There should be a response.”

South Africa’s Gaza genocide case reveals a widening rift between Israel and Western allies, as well as Global South nations, say experts.


International justice is seen as selective by the Global South, according to Johann Soufi, a former UNRWA legal office chief.

“The countries of the ‘South’ are increasingly rejecting this view, which they consider neocolonial.”

Gaza war sparked by Hamas’s attacks on October 7, causing about 1,140 deaths in Israel, mostly civilians (AFP tally).

Israel pledged to crush the Islamist movement, prompting a Gaza offensive. The Hamas health ministry states 25,900 deaths, with around 70% being women and children.

Israel’s ICJ representative, Tal Becker, deems South Africa’s portrayal as “profoundly distorted,” emphasizing Israel’s response as self-defense.

Using visual aids, Becker said Hamas had “tortured children in front of parents, burned people… systematically raped and mutilated”, in attacks that evoked memories of the Holocaust.


As the war’s civilian toll soared and diplomatic ceasefire efforts sputtered, backers of the Palestinian cause have looked to legal routes to halt the violence.

The loudest supporters of the ICJ case have included Muslim-majority states Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia and the Maldives.

They also include a slate of leftist-ruled Latin American nations including Bolivia, Colombia, Brazil and Venezuela.

Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva has been the most active Latin American leader, accusing Israel of “acts of terrorism”.

The U.S. opposes; some EU members, including Britain, and France consider accusing Israel of genocide as crossing a “moral threshold.

Unlike its neighbours, India also hasn’t backed the case.

“I’m not so sure that everyone in the West is in favour of Israel and everyone in the Global South is opposed to Israel,” said Marco Sassoli, international law professor at the University of Geneva.

“Both Western States and the Global South have double standards. Double standards are a poison for the credibility of international law,” he added, pointing to Western policy on the Ukraine war, which has largely opposed Russian aggression.

Some case supporters, not signatories of the 1948 genocide convention, hesitate to officially back South Africa’s action.

One of them is Muslim-majority Indonesia where military-backed, anti-communist purges in the mid-1960s — some of the worst of the 20th century — killed at least 500,000 people.

Jakarta provided an advisory legal opinion to the ICJ, supporting international law, per Professor Juwana from the University of Indonesia.


In South Africa, some criticize the action, viewed by the ANC as inspired by Nelson Mandela’s teachings.

Christian leaders criticized it as “flawed,” and South Africa’s Jewish Board expressed concern to President Ramaphosa about potential domestic anti-Semitism.

A ruling in favour of South Africa could legally oblige Israel to stop its campaign.

But some of the supporting nations are conscious it may have little impact.

Major powers, often non-compliant with court decisions, can influence it, says Roberto Goulart Menezes, University of Brasilia professor.

Brazil recognizes that a decision might only hold “moral and political” value but believes it would add weight to calls for a ceasefire.

Soufi warns Washington and allies to heed South Africa’s case, emphasizing the developing world’s use of international law to hold the West accountable.

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