The International Court of Justice (ICJ), a top United Nations court, commenced hearings Thursday on allegations of genocide in Gaza against Israel, brought forward by South Africa.
The case seeks an urgent halt to Israel’s military operations in Gaza, with South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians.
South Africa presented its arguments to the court on Thursday, while Israel is scheduled to respond to these allegations on Friday, Jan. 12. The ICJ is expected to decide on the emergency measures later this month, although a ruling on the genocide allegations themselves may take years.
While the decisions of the ICJ are final and cannot be appealed, the court does not have enforcement capabilities.
Israel has vehemently denied the accusations of genocide, dismissing them as unfounded. It has criticized South Africa’s stance, accusing it of siding with Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group Israel is battling in Gaza.
Both South Africa and Israel are signatories to the 1948 Genocide Convention. This treaty mandates its parties to refrain from committing genocide and to actively prevent and punish such acts. The convention defines genocide as actions intended to destroy, entirely or partially, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.