Palestinian officials apply to join South Africa’s case at top UN court accusing Israel of genocide

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Israel denies it is committing genocide in its military operation to crush Hamas triggered by the deadly Oct. 7 attacks.

THE HAGUE, Netherlands — Palestinian officials have applied at the top U.N. court for permission to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in Gaza.

The request published Monday alleges that Israel’s ongoing military operation is “part of a systematic effort to wipe Palestinian society and its culture and social institutions from the map.” The request to the International Court of Justice was made on behalf of the “State of Palestine” and signed by Palestinian Authority foreign ministry official Ammar Hijazi.

South Africa filed its case with the world court late last year accusing Israel of breaching the genocide convention in its military assault that has laid waste to large swaths of Gaza. Israel denies it is committing genocide in its military operation to crush Hamas triggered by the deadly Oct. 7 attacks.

Israel is expanding its offensive in the southern city of Rafah, once the main hub of humanitarian aid operations. The Israeli invasion has largely cut off the flow of food, medicine and other supplies to Palestinians facing widespread hunger.

Israeli bombardments and ground operations in Gaza have killed more than 36,000 Palestinians, according to Gaza’s Health Ministry, which does not distinguish between combatants and civilians.

The court has issued three preliminary orders in the case calling on Israel to do all it can to prevent deaths in the enclave, ramp up humanitarian aid and, most recently, halt its offensive in Rafah.

It is unclear how long the court’s judges will take to rule on the request. If granted, Palestinian officials will be able to address the court in writing and during public hearings.

In their request, the Palestinians said they are directly affected by South Africa’s case against Israel.

“The Israeli onslaught has obliterated and damaged, beyond recognition, Gaza’s hospitals, mosques, churches, universities, schools, homes, shops, and infrastructure, as part of a systematic effort to wipe Palestinian society and its culture and social institutions from the map,” the request says.

The request adds that, Israel is violating the court’s orders and continuing with “its genocidal acts including deliberately and systematically impeding humanitarian aid, resulting in an intentionally engineered situation of starvation and a creeping famine that is increasingly imminent.”

The Palestinians have been to the court before. In 2018, The Palestinian Authority filed a case asking its judges to order Washington to remove the relocated U.S. embassy from Jerusalem. The case followed the decision of the administration of then-U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv.

That case remains before the court, where cases can take years to resolve.

The International Court of Justice rules in cases between states. The United Nations General Assembly voted last month to give Palestine some new rights and privileges, but it reaffirmed that it remains a non-member observer state without full U.N. membership and the right to vote in the General Assembly or at any of its conferences.

The United States has made clear that it will block Palestinian membership and statehood until direct negotiations with Israel resolve key issues, including security, boundaries and the future of Jerusalem, and lead to a two-state solution.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.

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