Ross: South Africa, Israel cry genocide, but who is right?

Jan 21, 2024, 9:45 AM

south africa israel genocide...

FILE - The logo of the International Court of Justice, left, and that of the U.N., right, are seen on the judges bench at the International Court of Justice, or World Court, in The Hague, Netherlands, Thursday, Oct. 12, 2023. Israel is sending top legal minds, including a Holocaust survivor, to The Hague this week to counter allegations that it is committing genocide against Palestinians in Gaza. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

(AP Photo/Peter Dejong, File)

The International Court of Justice takes up the accusation of genocide. But which genocide?

The International Court of Justice, the United Nation’s Highest Court, heard arguments last week on an application by South Africa to have Israel’s War against Gaza declared a genocide.

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Among the arguments made by South Africa’s lawyers were that this is a war on children, that no distinction is being made between combatants and non-combatants, and that Israeli politicians have openly called for the eradication of Palestinians.

 “Soldiers filmed themselves detonating entire apartment blocks and town squares, erecting the Israeli flag over the wreckage, seeking to reestablish Israeli settlements on the rubble of Palestinian homes, and thus extinguishing the very basis of Palestinian life in Gaza,” Adila Hassim, the lawyer representing South Africa said.

“All of these acts individually and collectively form a calculated pattern of conduct by Israel, indicating a genocidal intent,” Hassim continued.

Israel, of course, refuted these arguments, claiming the only genocide was the ongoing campaign of Hamas to eradicate Israel, as evidenced by the Oct. 7 attack.

“If the claim of the applicant now is that Israel must be denied the ability to defend its citizens than the absurd upshot of South Africa’s argument is this. Under the guise of the allegation against Israel of genocide, this court is asked to call for an end to operations against the ongoing attacks of an organization that pursues an actual genocidal agenda, an organization that has violated every past ceasefire and use it to rearm and plan you atrocities, an organization that declares its unequivocal resolve to advance its genocidal plans,” legal advisor for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tal Becker said. “That is an unconscionable request.”

So, what can the court do with these dueling claims of genocide?

Well, if the goal is truly to stop this war, it seems to me the quickest way to do that would be for the court to order the arrest of the people who started it and put them on trial.

The court could authorize Israel to arrest the Hamas leadership or accept their peaceful surrender for the purpose of a UN trial to determine whether or not the Oct. 7 attack was justified.

The war would stop, and the two sides could make their case to the world and, with any luck, come to the conclusion that however we define genocide, it doesn’t solve anything, and it’s time to find a better way.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: South Africa, Israel cry genocide, but who is right?