Peace Palace in The Hague which houses the International Court of Justice
Peace Palace in The Hague which houses the International Court of JusticeiStock

South Africa on Friday asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to issue an urgent order declaring that Israel was in breach of its obligations under the Genocide Convention in its ongoing crackdown against Hamas in Gaza.

In a statement from South Africa's Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) quoted by Reuters, the government said the application against Israel was filed on Friday.

"Israel, since 7 October 2023 in particular, has failed to prevent genocide and has failed to prosecute the direct and public incitement to genocide," DIRCO said in a statement.

It said it had requested that the ICJ declare "on an urgent basis that Israel is in breach of its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention, should immediately cease all acts and measures in breach of those obligations and take a number of related actions."

Israel’s Foreign Ministry said in response that Israel “rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa in its application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ).”

“South Africa's claim lacks both a factual and a legal basis, and constitutes a despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the Court. South Africa is cooperating with a terrorist organization that is calling for the destruction of the State of Israel,” the Foreign Ministry said.

“The Hamas terrorist organization - which is committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and sought to commit genocide on 7 October - is responsible for the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip by using them as human shields and stealing humanitarian aid from them.”

“Israel is committed to international law and acts in accordance with it, and directs its military efforts solely against the Hamas terrorist organization and the other terrorist organizations cooperating with Hamas,” the Foreign Ministry statement clarified.

“Israel has made it clear that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy, and is making every effort to limit harm to civilians and to facilitate the entry of humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip. We call on the International Court of Justice and the international community to completely reject South Africa’s baseless claims,” it concluded.

Anti-Israel sentiments remain prevalent in South Africa, where the government has frequently accused Israel of applying a policy of “apartheid” towards Palestinian Arabs. The tensions have been on the rise since the start of Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza.

The South African government announced last month it was recalling its ambassador and entire diplomatic mission from Israel in protest against Israel's attempts to defend itself from the Hamas terrorist organization following the October 7 massacre.

Later, South Africa called in Israeli Ambassador Eliav Belotsercovsky for a formal reprimand, citing “public comments” he had made.

In late November, a majority of South African lawmakers voted in favor of a motion calling for the closure of the Israeli embassy and the cutting of diplomatic ties until Israel agrees to a ceasefire in Gaza.

(Israel National News' North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Israel National News articles, however, is Israeli time.)