Ottawa, ON – January 26, 2024 – Today, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) delivered its Order on the Request for the indication of provisional measures submitted by South Africa in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel).
In response, the leaders of the J7, the Large Jewish Communities’ Task Force Against Antisemitism, issued the following joint statement:
“We take note of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) appropriate rejection of South Africa’s extreme demand for an Israeli ceasefire, which tacitly recognizes Israel’s right to self-defense against Hamas and others in Gaza, as well as the ICJ’s call for the immediate and unconditional release of all hostages. We are, however, deeply disappointed by today’s decision by the ICJ to issue a series of provisional measures against Israel as they give weight to South Africa’s preposterous claims.
“Opponents of Israel are shamelessly politicizing the Genocide Convention, making a mockery of actual genocides, past, present, and future. It is part of a broader, morally obscene anti-Israel campaign, led by South Africa, with the backing of the Iranian regime and other governments hostile to the Jewish state. Their goal is to weaken Israel’s international standing, while bolstering the image of Hamas and other terrorist organizations committed to Israel’s violent destruction. It is unfortunate the ICJ, which is meant to serve as the ultimate standard-bearer for the international rule of law, has fallen victim, even if partially, to South Africa’s sinister ploy.
“It is important to note that the court’s provisional ruling – as repeatedly stated – is not a judgment on the merits of whether Israel’s actions amount to genocide, but rather aimed at “preserving” the state of affairs in preparation for a final ruling from the court, which could take months or years. We are confident that the evidence will show that Israel is indeed fully compliant with the Genocide Convention and that the charges brought by South Africa will be deemed baseless by the court.
“The Court’s provisional measures will now likely be misconstrued by some who will argue falsely that Israel is in fact committing acts of genocide in Gaza. This would be a lie. The legal definition, as laid out in the 1948 Genocide Convention, states that genocide constitutes “... acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group...” The fact remains there is no objective evidence that Israel is targeting the Palestinian people as a whole – in Gaza or elsewhere. As Israel has repeatedly stated, its conflict is with Hamas terrorists – who, on October 7, launched an unprovoked attack on Israel, torturing, raping, mutilating, and butchering 1,200 people, and kidnapping 240 others. It is not with the millions of Palestinian civilians living in Gaza.
“Indeed, during its military operations, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have gone to great lengths to avoid civilian casualties. These include giving advance warnings for civilians to evacuate targeted areas, creating humanitarian corridors for civilian safe passage, facilitating the delivery of truckloads of humanitarian aid into Gaza, and working with the United States and others to develop best practices for avoiding civilian casualties.
“Rather than recognizing Israeli efforts to minimize civilian casualties – as per its obligations under international humanitarian law, by which it fully abides – the ICJ has sent a confusing and convoluted message that grants legitimacy to Hamas, an actual genocidal group, whose founding charter calls for anti-Jewish violence and other forms of antisemitism and extremism. More urgently, the ruling will be used by anti-Israel activists to further malign Israel and its supporters and by antisemitic actors as “justification” for assaulting those advocating for the safety of the Jewish state and its citizens.
“We are grateful to Israel’s allies, including the US, Germany, the UK, France, Italy, Guatemala, Austria, and others, who have stood against South Africa’s false accusations and clearly rejected the genocide claim against Israel. We hope those governments and other like-minded states will similarly reject the ICJ’s interim ruling and continue to stand with Israel in defending itself against terrorism.”
About the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs
The Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) is the advocacy agent of Jewish Federations of Canada-UIA, representing Jewish Federations across Canada. CIJA is a national, non-partisan, non-profit organization whose mission is to preserve and protect Jewish life in Canada through advocacy and to advance the public policy interests of Canada’s organized Jewish community.
About the J7, The Large Communities’ Task Force Against Antisemitism
The J7, The Large Communities’ Task Force Against Antisemitism was formed by major Jewish organizations representing the world’s largest diaspora communities – the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Argentina, and Australia – in July 2023 in response to increasing rates of antisemitism around the world.
Modeled after similarly structured informal groupings to discuss coordinated responses to global crises, the J7 global task force aligns efforts to combat antisemitism and protect the quality of Jewish life around the world.
J7 founding members are: Canada, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA); Argentina, Delegación de Asociaciones Israelitas Argentinas (DAIA); Australia, Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ); France, Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France (CRIF); Germany, Zentralrat de Juden in Deutschland (Central Council of Jews in Germany); United Kingdom, Board of Deputies of British Jews; United States, Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
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