World court deals a hammer-blow to insulated Israeli impunity

South Africa's legal team with DIRCO with Minister Naledi Pandor. Picture: Supplied/Remko de Waal

South Africa's legal team with DIRCO with Minister Naledi Pandor. Picture: Supplied/Remko de Waal

Published Jan 28, 2024


AS extreme hunger turned into famine and death toll exceeded 26 000 in Israel’s genocidal military operation across the Gaza Strip, the world sighed with measured relief in the wake of adverse findings against Israel by the International Court of Justice at The Hague.

The case had been brought against the State of Israel by the South African government. It is a case with diverse and far-reaching geopolitical implications.

First and foremost, it does to Israel what has never been done to the Jewish State over the past 75 years of its systematic subjugation of the Palestinian people.

The ICJ ruling strips Israel off its US-induced impunity against international humanitarian law.

It opens Tel Aviv to global scrutiny like never before. Additionally, it removes whatever was left of Israel’s moral standing among the community of civilised nations.

Detractors of South Africa’s bold and courageous move to check-mate Israel before the apex court in the world are visibly licking their wounds.

The President Cyril Ramaphosa administration has stayed true to the ethos and values of the ANC’s shining light – Nelson Mandela – who vowed that the South Africa cannot claim to free until the Palestinians are free.

The majority of the nations of the world are also behind South Africa in this matter. The overwhelming vote for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza remains evidence of the global push against Israeli brutal genocide against the people of Palestine.

Predictably, apartheid Israel remains defiant in the wake of the damning findings by the ICJ. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, facing mounting domestic pressure to relinquish his post, spewed expected baloney.

He described SA’s allegations of genocide against Israel as “outrageous”. In a lump-in-the-throat moment, Netanyahu said Israel was taking great care not to harm civilians in Gaza.

But, thanks particularly to social media, visual evidence of Israeli brutality characterised by what South Africa’s legal team argued at The Hague that it amounted to “collective punishment” – the world can watch timeously when US-supplied bombs rain on Palestinian civilians.

This is why, in part, this week’s ruling by the ICJ is historic. Human Rights Watch in SA described the ICJ ruling as “seminal”.

Going forward, the dice will be heavily loaded against Israel, the US, UK and a few other powerful Western backers who are wont to hunt in packs.

In spite of the hopeless pushback by Israel and its allies through quite poor attempt at spinning the ICJ ruling claiming the court did not pronounce verbatim SA’s calls for a “ceasefire”, the list of findings are just as too bad for Tel Aviv and Washington, in particular.

As for the Biden administration, the findings paves a way for possible litigation against Washington as aiding and abetting Israel’s genocidal military operations in Gaza.

Indeed, the US does possess a veto power as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Historically, the US had abused this veto power by shielding Israel from international scrutiny in relations to the country’s litany of excesses against the Palestinians.

As the Palestinian ambassador to the UN, Riyad Mansour, said whilst reacting jubilantly to the ICJ ruling: “Fasten your seat belts – we are entering very interesting times.”

In SA, there’s been a chorus of celebrations across the social and political spectrum, led by President Ramaphosa, a leader who deserves great praise for his fearless stance in support and defence of the people of Palestine.

Ramaphosa stood up almost alone, in spite of the lurking dangers that could very easily include America’s foreign policy trump card – regime change.

Said Ramaphosa in response to the ICJ ruling: “We expect Israel as a self-proclaimed democracy to abide by the ruling of the International Court of Justice.”

SA’s Minister of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), Dr Naledi Pandor, speaking from The Hague, said the ruling sends “a clear message to Israel” that international law is binding and therefore must abide by the commands of the ICJ.

The ICJ has ordered Israel to, among other emergency measures, “take steps to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza”.

What I found particularly encouraging was the order to Israel by the ICJ that the country must ensure that none of the Israeli soldiers carries out any genocidal activity in Gaza.

Additionally, Israel has been ordered to take steps against war-mongers and other loud-mouths who utter words encouraging genocide against the Palestinians. This is a tall order for Israel. The war-mongers are to be found inside The Knesset, the war cabinet, the settlements and throughout various spheres of apartheid Israel.

The long and short of the ICJ’s ruling, in the opinion of Minister Pandor, is simply that there is no way they can abide by the emergency orders without an atmosphere of a ceasefire. The ICJ might therefore not have called it thus, but then again, it’s all about semantics.

Defenders of Israel especially in Washington were lying without shame as they reeled from the damning findings. John Kirby, national security spokesperson in the White House, said the Biden administration was in the same page with the ICJ.

I don’t know what Kirby and his ilk had been smoking. Everybody is fully aware that the US has provided financial, military and diplomatic support for Tel Aviv for years, whilst pulling wool over everybody’s eyes by claiming that they care for the Palestinian civilians that they bomb every day.

In the final analysis, it matters little what the well-resourced public relations machinery of Israel’s backers spin the ICJ findings. One thing is crystal clear: Israel has been outed.

The sins of Tel Aviv have been laid bare by a morally upright voice of the voiceless Palestinians that is SA. Never again will the plight of the Palestinian people remain relegated to the obscure agenda of the international system.

The issue of the two-state solution guaranteeing Palestinian statehood side-by-side with Israel will likely never be removed from the UN agenda ever again.

This is in large measure thanks to SA, and many others across the global south that have spoken louder and louder amidst the unfolding genocide in Gaza.

Israel indeed does have a right to security, but that security should never be at the expense of the security of the Palestinians.

To this end, the entire international community that adheres to multipolar ethos must strengthen their resolve to pressure the US, UK, Canada, Germany, Italy and other Western subscribers to a “rules-based world order” to refrain from hindering the final attainment of Palestinian statehood. Failure to do so guarantee them a harsh judgement at the end of history.