3 words for South Africa, one word for Israel

LAWYERS representing South Africa and Israel concluded their submissions on Thursday and Friday, respectively, in the case brought by the former to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

The three-hour oral presentation of the case can be summed up in three words – nothing justifies genocide.

In response, Israel argues that the Gaza war was initiated by Hamas’ attack on army outposts and surrounding villages in southern Israel, including the taking of hundreds of captives on October 7. Israel asserts its right to defend itself under international law.

However, it’s important to note that Israel is considered an occupying force in Gaza. The ICJ has raised serious doubts about Israel’s ability to invoke a claim of self-defense against attacks emanating from Gaza.

Article 51 of the United Nations Charter entitles Israel to act in self-defense in response to armed attacks.

In its 2004 decision on the legal consequences of the construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the ICJ stated, however, that Article 51 of the UN Charter “recognises the existence of an inherent right of self-defense in the case of an armed attack by one state against another state”.

The ICJ concluded that noting Israel “does not claim that the attacks against it are imputable to a foreign state”, attacks launched from the occupied West Bank do not give rise to an Israeli right of self-defense.

This doesn’t imply that Israel, in principle, cannot use force to suppress violence emanating from the Gaza Strip or act to protect its civilian population.

However, as a matter of law, Israel must do this as an exercise of its right to police the occupied territories, not as an exercise of the right of self-defence.

Israel’s argument lacks merit; it is, in one word, weak. – January 13, 2024.

* Hafiz Hassan reads The Malaysian Insight.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight. Article may be edited for brevity and clarity.

Sign up or sign in here to comment.