Israel to face Gaza genocide charges at World Court

GAZA: Israel prepared to defend itself on Thursday (Jan 11) at the top UN court against accusations of genocide in Gaza, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rebuffed for the first time calls by some right-wing ministers to permanently occupy the enclave.

As Israel’s war in Gaza continued to rage, the International Court of Justice in The Hague, also known as the World Court, was to hold hearings on Thursday and Friday in a case brought by South Africa in December claiming Israel’s war against Hamas militants in Gaza violates the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said on Wednesday: “Tomorrow, the State of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice to dispel South Africa’s absurd blood libel, as Pretoria gives political and legal cover to the Hamas Rapist Regime.”

The hearings will deal exclusively with South Africa’s request for emergency measures ordering Israel to suspend its military actions in Gaza while the court hears the merits of the case – a process which could take years. Colombia and Brazil expressed their support of South Africa late on Wednesday.

Israel launched its offensive after Hamas fighters carried out an Oct 7 cross-border rampage in which Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 240 abducted.

Since then, Israeli forces have laid much of Gaza to waste, and nearly all of its 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes at least once, causing a humanitarian catastrophe. More than 23,000 Palestinians have been killed.

On the eve of the hearings, Netanyahu for the first time publicly stated opposition to calls from right-wing members of his government, including Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, for Palestinians to leave Gaza voluntarily, making way for Israelis to settle there.

While the stance has been Israel’s official policy, Netanyahu’s prior comments on permanent occupation of Gaza have been inconsistent and at times opaque.

“I want to make a few points absolutely clear: Israel has no intention of permanently occupying Gaza or displacing its civilian population,” Netanyahu said on social media platform X.

Potentially timing his comments ahead of the ICJ hearings, he added: “Israel is fighting Hamas terrorists, not the Palestinian population, and we are doing so in full compliance with international law.”

Jordan and Egypt warned on Wednesday against any Israeli reoccupation of the Gaza Strip and appealed for uprooted residents to be allowed to return to their homes as Jordan’s King Abdullah and Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met.

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