South Africa case against Israel in ICJ

Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip is a case brought before the International Court of Justice on 29 December 2023 by South Africa regarding Israel’s conduct in the Gaza Strip as part of the Israel–Hamas war.

Caracas, January 10, 2024 ( – Venezuela has issued a statement backing South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ). 

“Venezuela, as a country committed to diplomacy for peace, recognizes South Africa’s firm and historic step in defense of the Palestinian people and international law,” stated the communique released by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry on Tuesday. 

The text also encouraged the international community to support South Africa’s legal action and urged multilateral justice institutions to “act in accordance with international law” and “rise to the seriousness” of the current events in the Gaza Strip “that constitute a clear aggression against humanity.”

Venezuela has consistently condemned Israel’s US-backed occupation, military attacks and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people since the Hugo Chávez era. In 2009, the former president broke diplomatic ties with Israel after a deadly assault on Gaza.

For his part, President Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly accused Israel of carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people and has recently reaffirmed his country’s “unconditional support” for Palestine’s liberation struggle. Caracas likewise sent a humanitarian aid shipment to Gaza.

On December 29, the government of South Africa filed a lawsuit at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention in its ongoing military assault in Gaza. The 84-page document details evidence of Israel’s crimes from the slaughter, inhumane treatment and arbitrary detention of Palestinian civilians to the use of hunger and disease as weapons of war. 

The lawsuit likewise cites expressions of genocidal intent by Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.

Since October 7, the bombings and ground incursions carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, with almost 10,000 of them being children. According to the UN, 1.9 million people (over 85 percent of Gaza’s population) have been displaced and at least 26 hospitals out of 36 have been destroyed by Israeli bombs. Additionally, one out of every four Palestinians in Gaza is starving. Over 100 journalists and 142 UN staff members in Gaza have been killed as well.

The ICJ will hold its first hearings on January 11 and 12. Although it is the highest UN legal body, the Hague-based court lacks the authority to enforce its decisions. In the event of Israel being formally charged with genocide, the responsibility for carrying out the verdict would rest with the UN Security Council, where the five permanent members (the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France) hold veto power.

The Genocide Convention has been ratified by 153 countries, including Israel and South Africa, and was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948 following the Second World War in order to prevent another Holocaust from happening or punish its perpetrators.

Other countries that have welcomed South Africa’s ICJ case against Israel are Bolivia, Nicaragua, Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan, The Maldives, Namibia and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), which has 57 members including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and Morocco.

Besides countries, many human rights and advocacy groups worldwide have joined South Africa’s call. On January 3, the newly-formed International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP) issued a sign-on letter that has garnered over 800 organizational endorsements.

In turn, the United States has declared its opposition to South Africa’s genocide case. On January 3, National Security spokesperson John Kirby said the lawsuit against Israel was “meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis.” As of the time of writing, the European Union (EU) has not made any statement regarding the ICJ lawsuit. 

Apart from the legal action taken against Israel at the World Court, Bolivia has submitted a request to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, along with South Africa, Bangladesh, Comoros, and Djibouti, urging an investigation into the situation in Palestine. The ICC, based in The Hague, is responsible for probing crimes against humanity and bringing individuals to trial.


Spain says it will join the case filed by South Africa at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which accuses Israel of violating its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its war on the Gaza Strip.

Making the announcement on Thursday, Spanish Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares said, “We made this decision in light of the continuation of the military operation in Gaza.”

All states that signed the 1948 Genocide Convention are obliged to not commit genocide and also to prevent and punish it. The treaty defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

States may intervene in a case before the ICJ if they have an interest of a legal nature that could be affected by the decision in the case. They can file a request to the court to be permitted to intervene, which the court can then decide upon.

Countries that have joined or declared their intention to join South Africa’s genocide case against Israel are:

  1. South Africa: filed the case on December 29
  2. Nicaragua: applied to join on February 8
  3. Belgium: declared intention to join on March 11
  4. Colombia: applied to join on April 5
  5. Turkey: declared intention to join on May 1
  6. Libya: applied to join on May 10
  7. Egypt: declared intention to join on May 12
  8. Maldives: declared intention to join on May 13
  9. Mexico: applied to join on May 24
  10. Ireland: declared intention to join on May 28
  11. Chile: declared intention to join on June 2
  12. Palestine: applied to join on June 3
  13. Spain: declared intention to join on June 6

Several other countries and organisations have welcomed South Africa’s case amid a global chorus for a ceasefire in Gaza.


This live page is now closed. You can follow our coverage of Israel’s war on Gaza here.

  • Israel has presented its response to South Africa’s genocide case against it at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
  • ICJ president says World Court to present its judgement in the coming days.
  • On Thursday, South Africa argued that Israel violated the 1948 Genocide Convention.
  • At least 23,469 people, including almost 10,000 children, have been killed and more than 59,604 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *