Skip to content


  • by


14 JAN 2023

Having read the court papers the Government of South Africa submitted to the International Court of Justice for an order directing Israel to take measures to prevent the genocide being carried out by its forces against the Palestinians, and listening to the verbal submissions SA’s legal agents made to the court as well as the rebuttals of the state of Israel today, it is abundantly clear that the case for genocide has been made beyond any shadow of reasonable doubt.

Israeli regime is guilty as charged.

Not that we needed the lawyers that tell us what we see with our eyes in real time, but South Africa’s case rest on a granite foundation of facts and principles of international humanitarian law. The case for a plausible cause for genocide was meticulously presented in papers and competently argued by the agents.

Israel failed in rebuttal.

On the other side, Israel has failed to rebut any of these facts, legal arguments and claims. That is primarily because they are in an impossible situation. The logic of the whole Zionist settler colonialism, and the extreme right-wing populism of the current regime means that the whole political establishment, military and bureaucratic apparatus of the state has incriminated itself at one point or the other. Escalation of Jewish settlements, ethnic cleansing as well as heightened violence and repression of the Palestinians to achieve these goals is the political basis of the coalescing of extremely rightwing, fascist pro- Settler parties currently constituting the right-wing coalition government of Benjamin Netanyahu.

Bare denials, evasions, exaggerations, victim bashing and blatant lies are the only way anyone cancharacterize the feeble attempts of Israel at rebutting the case of South Africa.

Despite this and other desperate attempts at cover up, mainly for the sake of their ‘democratic western allies’ that are enabling this genocide, the Israeli regime cannot stop the genocidal rhetoric and self[1] incrimination in its ranks. This is essential for the racist colonial discourse and public opinion they build over years and whipped into frenzy, in the aftermath of the Hamas attack on October 7. The fact that the only clearest statement contradicting this rhetoric emanated from the Prime Minister Netanyahu after South Africa had already lodged its application is telling.

Further compounding the problems for Israel is the advent of alternative mainstream and social media, which has laid bare all these genocidal acts Israelis were accustomed to committing in the comfort of their seclusive colonial bubble. Consistent livestreaming of the sheer levels of destruction of Palestinian live and property, the brutality of the Israeli military and settlers, and the barbarism of many of the right-wing Zionists by Al Jazeera and other media outlets not beholden to Western Imperialism, as well as translations into widely spoken languages in social media of Israeli politicians and officials means that Israelis could not cover up the ongoing genocide as they did other acts of aggressions before.

United States implicitly admits the main elements of genocide.

That is the reason even the US has to incriminate Israel despite its own feigning of contempt for South

Africa’s allegations of genocide. If there was no intent to ethnically cleanse Gaza of Palestinians, why would US issue statements rejecting any plans to evict Palestinians. The intend to ethnically cleanse Gaza, which the US denounce and therefore admit its presence, alone and independent of all other facts, meet the thresholds for the case of genocide SA made before ICJ. The mass killings, and destruction of houses, hospitals, schools, churches and mosques, deprivation of water, food, electricity, internet and all other facts SA placed before the court are only a manifestation of this genocidal intend. They are not essential for an interim order to prevent genocide that SA is asking.

The case for genocide has therefore being made by Israelis themselves more than anybody else. The verdict is out. It is damning, clear and unequivocal in law: the state of Israel is guilty as charged. This is recognized by all law abiding and honest citizens of the world, not only faithful scholars of law.

Class and geopolitical Considerations will decide, not the law.

The only that thing outstanding is the opinion of the International Court of Justice itself. This opinion will not change much, whichever way it goes, except for the potential to disabuse the masses of the international working class and progressive public opinion of judicial cretinism and illusions in the institutions of global justice system. The International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court have demonstrated, again and again that they are no more than a judicial arm of western imperialism.

In their whole history, spanning decades now, none of these courts have never found guilty anyone of any international crime other than those deemed so according to the opinion and interests of Western Imperialism. In the most recent period, the invasion of Iraq stand as the stark remainder of what these courts are really about or to be more precise, what they are not about: dispensation of justice without fear and favour.

Despite the overwhelming case, the judgement of the court can still go either way. One is thing is clear:

It is not law that is going to decide the merits of the case but class and imperialist politics. The judges are appointed based on imperialist considerations of their governments, and the decision of the court will require UN Security Council made up of government representatives to enforce it anyway.

International Mass Movement for Palestine and balance of Class Forces.

However, this is not the cause to despair. In this situation, it will not only be the brief from the Western imperialism that judges will have to consider. The hot breath of mass indignation and opposition to the genocide, sharply expressed in the breath-taking scale of the international mass mobilisations for Palestine will also have to be factored by court, if it is to retain any modicum of credibility in the global public opinion.

The international public opinion, as expressed, in the widespread denounciations of the Israeli regime and countless mass demonstrations across the globe including in the Western countries supporting Israel have shifted the balance of power. This public opinion and scrutiny will also be weighing heavily on the minds of the ICJ as they ponder the implications of their decision for the credibility of the global judicial architecture and its so-called rules-based international order.

This is the legal-academic opinion issued by:

Mametlwe Sebei

Lecturer: Dept of Jurisprudence