Bernadette Wicks12 January 2024 | 8:37

Antisemitism, self-defence, Hamas likely focus of Israel ICJ arguments: Expert

Israel is set to make its counterargument to South Africa’s genocide claims at the Hague on Friday.

Antisemitism, self-defence, Hamas likely focus of Israel ICJ arguments: Expert

South Africa's delegation take their seats in the International Court of Justice's Peace Palace in the genocide case against Israel on 11 January 2024. Picture: X/@Chrispin_JPhiri

JOHANNESBURG - A legal expert says antisemitism, self-defence, and Hamas’s alleged use of civilians as human shields is likely to be the focus of Israel’s arguments against genocide claims before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday.

The first leg of South Africa’s genocide case against Israel got underway before the court on Thursday, with Israel set to present its counterargument at The Hague for three hours on Friday.
South Africa wants the ICJ to indicate provisional measures that would halt Israel’s ongoing military operations in Gaza, which follow a surprise attack launched from the strip on 7 October 2023.

This is pending a bid to have Israel’s conduct over the last three months found to be in breach of the Genocide Convention.


Oscar Van Heerden, who is a senior research fellow at the University of Johannesburg’s Centre for Diplomacy and Leadership, said he’s expecting to hear “a long history of antisemitism” on Friday.

“We are going to be told about the holocaust, we’re going to be told that Hamas, as an organisation - according to Israel, a terrorist organisation - is wanting to see the annihilation of the State of Israel. In other words, wanting to pursue a holocaust type of struggle, and this is what South Africa is supporting, this is what makes us, as South Africa, antisemitic.”

He said the second line of argument he’s expecting is one focused on Israel’s right to defend itself.

“And third, they're going to argue, ‘what are we to do if Hamas is hiding in plain sight among innocent civilians, and we are wanting to kill or eradicate Hamas? Obviously, there will be a high toll in terms of civilians’, and so forth.”