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Israel claims that their actions against Hamas in Gaza are a form of self-defense, according to their statement to the world court.
Middle East World News

Israel claims that their actions against Hamas in Gaza are a form of self-defense, according to their statement to the world court.

During the second and last day of initial hearings at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the legal representatives for Israel maintained that their military goals were to eliminate the existential danger presented by Hamas militants and to release approximately 136 hostages who are still being held in the severely damaged region of the conflict.

According to Tal Becker, a co-agent for Israel, the country is engaged in a defensive war against Hamas rather than the Palestinian people. This statement was made in response to terror attacks led by Hamas on October 7th, as presented to judges in The Hague.

According to Mr. Becker, there has been immense civilian suffering during this war, as is common in all wars. He shared the final distressing text messages from a father of an Israeli farming family who were killed in their home by suspected Hamas fighters. The father described how the fighters tortured children in front of their parents and parents in front of their children.

Defence ‘obligations’

Mr. Becker refused South Africa’s request to the court, based on the Genocide Convention, to impose “interim measures” and instruct Israel to halt its military operation in Gaza without delay.

He stated that this was an effort to prevent Israel from fulfilling its duties in protecting its citizens, the hostages, and over 110,000 displaced Israelis who are unable to safely go back to their homes.

The topic of justifiable self-defense was a prominent point in Israel’s discussion.

Israel’s legal representatives argued that a State has the right to protect itself and its people when under attack. They emphasized the severe impact of the 7 October terror attacks carried out by Hamas and other Palestinian militants in southern Israel, which resulted in the deaths of 1,200 individuals and the capture of approximately 250 others.

Israel’s representative, Malcolm Shaw, stated that there is no intention of genocide and this is not a case of genocide. While Hamas’s actions may not excuse violating the law or committing genocide, they do justify a state’s right to self-defense, as outlined in the UN Charter.

‘Weaponizing genocide’

Israel’s legal team rejected South Africa’s portrayal of the war in Gaza as “profoundly distorted” and accused their counterparts of trying to use the term genocide as a weapon. They argued that Hamas’s language of “annihilation” and “cleansing” in regards to Jews is a more accurate depiction.

The court was informed that the militant organization in charge of Gaza has redirected billions of dollars in aid and transformed the area into a highly advanced terrorist hub, integrated within local communities.

Galit Raguan, representing Israel, stated that urban warfare in Gaza leads to tragic deaths, harm, and damage. However, she also pointed out that these negative consequences are amplified because they align with Hamas’ intentions.

The Israel legal counsel claimed that all hospitals searched by the Israeli Defense Forces had discovered proof of military activity by Hamas. They also accused Hamas of concealing weapons in a hospital incubator.

The international court was presented with evidence that the Israeli military did not have any intentions of committing genocide, as they followed international humanitarian laws by only targeting military personnel or objectives in a fair and proportionate manner.

The legal team from Israel stated that their efforts to reduce harm and provide humanitarian aid during military operations have not received much attention. This is despite their widespread use of phone calls and leaflets to warn people of potential conflict.

Next steps in the case

After the ICJ has received initial submissions from South Africa and Israel, the justices’ primary responsibility is to determine if there is enough justification to grant provisional measures in favor of South Africa’s request. These measures aim to safeguard the Palestinian people’s rights under the Genocide Convention and prevent any further severe or irreparable harm.

According to legal experts, these actions will take place within a matter of weeks.

The purpose of these measures is to make sure that Israel follows its duties under the Genocide Convention, which includes not committing genocide and taking action to prevent and punish it. This information was stated in a previous press release from the ICJ.

If the outcome is a call for a ceasefire but it is not put into action, the issue would then need to be addressed by the United Nations Security Council. The council could then come to a consensus on a resolution to enforce an end to hostilities.

In the upcoming month, the international court will also review a distinct matter involving Israel and Palestine. This request was made by the UN General Assembly on December 30, 2022, prior to the current conflict.

The General Assembly asked the ICJ for a legal opinion on the repercussions of “Israeli actions that impact the human rights of Palestinians in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

On 19 February 2024, a public hearing will be held following the court’s receipt of written reports from multiple States.

The source of this information is from the United Nations website.