A Detailed Guide to South Africa's Historic Accusation Against Israel | Savoir Flair


A Detailed Guide to South Africa's Historic Accusation Against Israel
by Jana Shakhashir 5-minute read January 12, 2024

Never again means never again for anyone.


Today, we stand witness to history as rulings have officially concluded at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), where South Africa has accused Israel of genocide in Gaza. What does this mean for international law, global justice, and our collective moral compass? As the world stands by for the court's verdict, Savoir Flair created a detailed guide to the intricacies of this case and what it could mean for Palestinians and the world.

On December 29th, South Africa launched a groundbreaking case against Israel at the ICJ, citing violations of the Genocide Convention. The case details Israel's "sustained bombardment over more than 11 weeks of one of the most densely populated places in the world, forcing the evacuation of 1.9 million people or 85 percent of the population of Gaza from their homes and herding them into ever smaller areas, without adequate shelter, in which they continue to be attacked, killed and harmed." 

Lawyers from both countries have spent the last two days in court, presenting arguments and evidence in what is seen as one of the most significant international legal proceedings in recent history. This case not only has the potential to put an end to the horrific assault we have been witnessing over the past three months but also underscores the critical role of international institutions in holding governments accountable for breaches of international law, particularly at a time when public faith in such institutions has virtually disintegrated.


What is the ICJ?

The ICJ is one of the six "principal organs" of the United Nations. It was established in 1945 as a guardian of global justice. It comprises 15 judges from 15 different countries who are bound by objectivity. One of our time's most important international legal cases is in their hands. A minimum of eight judges is required to rule on this genocide accusation. Unlike UN bodies, the ICJ operates without a veto, ensuring a fair and unbiased process​​.

South Africa is accusing Israel of violating the 1948 UN Genocide Convention, to which both countries are signatories. Enacted in the wake of the Holocaust, it defines genocide as "acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group."


What are South Africa’s claims against Israel?

In our detailed guide, we've meticulously summarized the 84-page brief submitted to the court by South Africa which you can read in its entirety here. To provide our readers with a clear and structured understanding of the case, we've categorized South Africa's allegations into two distinct sections: 'Genocidal Acts' and 'Expressions of Genocidal Intent.' Each category is enriched with direct quotes from the brief, offering an unvarnished look into the serious accusations and the evidence presented.

Genocidal Acts

Killing Palestinians in Gaza
"Israel has now killed in excess of 21,110 named Palestinians, including over 7,729 children — with over 7,780 others missing, presumed dead under the rubble".

Causing Serious Bodily and Mental Harm to Palestinians in Gaza
"Those acts include killing them, causing them serious mental and bodily harm, and deliberately inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction as a group."

Mass Expulsion from Homes and Displacement of Palestinians in Gaza
"Many fled the north of the territory to the south, having been ordered to do so by Israel only to be bombed again in the south and told to flee once again further south or the south west where they are reduced to living in makeshift tents in camps with no water, sanitation, or other facilities."

Deprivation of Access to Adequate Food and Water to Palestinians in Gaza
"The entire population in Gaza is at imminent risk of famine whereas the proportion of households affected by acute food insecurity is the largest ever recorded according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification ('IPC')."

Deprivation of Adequate Medical Assistance to Palestinians in Gaza
"Gaza’s healthcare system has all but collapsed with reports of operations including amputations and cesarean sections taking place without anesthetic."

Destruction of Palestinian Life in Gaza
"By 29 October 2023 alone, it was estimated that 6,000 bombs per week had been dropped on the tiny enclave. In just over two months, Israel’s military attacks had 'wreaked more destruction than the razing of Syria’s Aleppo between 2012 and 2016, Ukraine’s Mariupol or, proportionally, the Allied bombing of Germany in World War II.'"


Expressions of Genocidal Intent

The following are direct quotes by Israeli politicians regarding the country's ongoing incessant onslaught on Gaza since October 7th.

Prime Minister of Israel
On 15 October 2023, when Israeli airstrikes had already killed over 2,670 Palestinians, including 724 children, the Prime Minister stated that Israeli soldiers' understand the scope of the mission' and stand ready 'to defeat the bloodthirsty monsters who have risen against [Israel] to destroy us.'"

On 16 October 2023, in a formal address to the Israeli Knesset, he described the situation as "a struggle between the children of light and the children of darkness, between humanity and the law of the jungle."

President of Israel
"It's an entire nation out there that is responsible. It's not true this rhetoric about civilians not aware not involved. It's not true. we will fight until we break their backbone."

Israeli Minister of Energy and Infrastructure
All the civilian population in Gaza is ordered to leave immediately. We will win. They will not receive a drop of water or a single battery until they leave the world."

Israeli Minister of Finance
[W]e need to deal a blow that hasn't been seen in 50 years and take down Gaza."

Israeli Minister of Defence
"We are fighting human animals and we are acting accordingly."

"Gaza won't return to what it was before. We will eliminate everything. If it doesn't take one day, it will take a week. It will take weeks or even months, we will reach all places."

Israeli Minister of Heritage
"The north of the Gaza Strip, more beautiful than ever. Everything is blown up and flattened, simply a pleasure for the eyes."

"There is no such thing as uninvolved civilians in Gaza."

Israeli Minister of Agriculture
"[W]e are now actually rolling out the Gaza Nakba."

Deputy Speaker of the Knesset and Member of the Foreign Affairs and Security Committee
"[N]ow we all have one common goal — erasing the Gaza Strip from the face of the earth. Those who are unable will be replaced."




The DESTRUCTION wrought by Israel is so extreme that 'Gaza is now a different color from space.'


What Would a Ruling Entail?

If Israel is found guilty of genocide, the ICJ could issue an emergency measure calling for an immediate cessation of aggressive actions. This would be a significant step in international efforts to stop the genocide.

However, it's crucial to understand that ICJ rulings, while not directly enforceable, carry substantial weight regarding moral authority and international pressure. Therefore, a decision in this case would be a symbolic victory and a powerful tool for influencing global opinion and policy.




The gravity of this case transcends legal boundaries; it's a test of our collective moral compass. It's not just about legal verdicts but about the world taking a stand against atrocities that echo the darkest chapters of human history.

As we await the court's decision in the coming weeks, we extend our deepest gratitude to the legal team and South Africa for their courage and decency in bringing this critical issue to the forefront of global justice. Their action reminds us that standing for what's right is the essence of true bravery and humanity.

Most importantly, the voices and experiences of Palestinians in Gaza have played the most crucial role in this legal process. Videos shared by residents and content created by activists globally were cited as hard evidence in an international court of law. This underscores a powerful truth: posting matters, speaking up matters. Every shared video, every story told, and every post created contributes to a larger narrative of truth and justice. It's a testament to the impact of collective action and the power of our digital voices in shaping real-world outcomes. Let this be a reminder that in our interconnected world, every voice has the potential to echo in the halls of justice, and every action, no matter how small, can contribute to the cause of humanity.

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