Libya Supports South Africa In Case Against Israel At International Court Of Justice – OpEd


Libya will submit an invitation to the International Court of Justice. This invitation is in relation to the case filed against the Israeli occupation authorities for their crimes in the Gaza Strip, as an act of solidarity with South Africa.

This case, brought forth by Palestine and Libya, is the second of its kind, following a case filed by South Africa accusing Israel of committing genocide in the Gaza war.

South Africa has accused Israel, before the International Court of Justice, of violating the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in international law. They argue that the attack launched by Hamas on October 7, 2023 does not justify the actions Israel is currently taking in the Gaza Strip. South Africa has submitted an 84-page complaint to the International Court of Justice, urging the judges to order Israel to immediately suspend its military operations in Gaza and cease fire. However, Israel has rejected these accusations.

In addition, Libya is joining Palestine in this case, and their ambassador to the Netherlands will be in attendance. The ambassador has expressed support for South Africa’s historic humanitarian position on coexistence, peace, and rejection of racism. Libya will attend the session scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, in The Hague, alongside Palestine, to support South Africa’s legal team.

The focus of this case is on the acts of genocide committed by Israel, particularly the killing of Palestinian civilians, inflicting serious bodily harm on them, and the imposition of conditions that are unsustainable for life and the healthcare system in Gaza. Palestinians in Gaza are not only being killed by Israeli weapons and bombs from air, land, and sea, but they are also at immediate risk of death from starvation and disease due to the lack of food supplies and the inability to distribute aid amidst the ongoing bombings. The judiciary team will present their case.

Video footage of the difficult conditions on the ground in Gaza, including an aid truck, was presented. She stated, “Nothing will stop the suffering except by order of this court.” We are requesting a ceasefire for civilians in Gaza from the court. It is not necessary for the court to make a final determination on whether Israel’s behavior constitutes genocide, but it is important to examine the commission of these crimes and the increasing numbers of women and children being killed, comparing these actions with international law.

“The violence and destruction in Palestine and Israel did not start on October 7, 2023.” Palestinians have endured systematic oppression and violence for the past 76 years. However, on that day, Hamas militants attacked Israel, resulting in the deaths of at least 1,200 people.

South Africa utilized the Special Treaty on the Prevention of Genocide, which was signed by both South Africa and Israel. This treaty, known as the “Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide” from 1948, requires signatory states to punish those involved in the commission of genocide. The treaty defines genocide as “certain acts intended to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” South Africa submitted evidence showing that Israel had killed approximately 1,200 people and held over 200 hostage. According to the Hamas Ministry of Health in the Strip, the war resulted in the deaths of over 23,000 people in Gaza.

Israel responded by stating that its military operations in Gaza were in response to Hamas’ destruction and their efforts to eliminate terrorism. Germany, the European Union, the United States, and other countries classify Hamas as a terrorist organization.

The International Court of Justice, the highest legal body associated with the United Nations, differs from the International Criminal Court, which has jurisdiction over treaty-based war crimes charges against individuals. Both courts are based in The Hague.

According to a Reuters report, South Africa’s request to the court for temporary measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza is the first step in a case that will take several years to conclude.

ICJ judges often announce such measures, typically requiring a state to refrain from actions that could worsen the legal dispute.

Before deciding on the two cases, the crucial point is whether the court has jurisdiction and if the acts complained of could fall under the Genocide Convention.

Why did South Africa bring this case, and why does Libya want to join?

South Africa is known as one of Israel’s most vocal critics, and the ruling African National Congress party has long refused to equate Israel’s policies in Gaza and the West Bank with the former apartheid regime in South Africa. Additionally, South Africa is a signatory to the Genocide Convention, which aims to prevent genocide.

Since its inception in 1948, the Israeli state has aimed to combine its military and technological superiority with its political and diplomatic capabilities, as well as its reliance on American pressure, to achieve its goal of strategic normalization. Despite the decline of Libya’s influence in the region, particularly after the war and internal conflicts following Muammar Gaddafi’s reign, the Israeli state is still attempting to establish normalization with Libya.

However, all attempts made by Al-Dabaiba and Haftar to achieve this goal have been rejected by Libya. The Libyan people are firmly against normalization and instead stand in solidarity with Al-Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, and Palestine. This rejection of normalization with the Zionist state is a strong sentiment among the Libyan population.

The Israeli state’s persistent efforts to normalize relations with Libya, which have been ongoing for almost twenty years, indicate the seriousness with which they view any potential relationship between themselves and the internationally recognized regime in Tripoli, or even between themselves and General Khalifa Haftar and his supporting forces.

Israel aims to form a government that would cancel the water border demarcation agreement with Turkey, as it would grant Turkey control over the area through which the planned pipeline carrying Israeli gas to Europe would pass. This would potentially place Israel’s gas exports at the mercy of Turkish decisions.

Israel’s support for Haftar is viewed as a strategic political and economic investment. Normalization of diplomatic relations with Libya would be a significant victory for Israel, bringing it closer to the sensitive region, notably Algeria, aligning with Israel’s broader policy goals in the Arab region.

Israel’s strategic plan includes the construction of undersea gas pipelines as part of the EastMed project to transport Israeli gas to Europe. However, the planned route intersects with the maritime area between Turkey and Libya, as defined by a 2019 agreement between Ankara and the Libyan government. Obtaining approval from Turkey is challenging due to the ongoing political dispute and competition with Turkey’s “Southern Gas Corridor” project.

Israel’s interests in normalizing relations with Libya are clearly stated and encompass political, diplomatic, economic, and security aspects. This includes the exportation of gas and the prevention of arms smuggling.

A significant question arises regarding the interests of political forces within the Arab region. Will Arab countries show solidarity with Libya in the International Court, or will the normalization agreements hinder their support? Additionally, what role will Europe play, and will political interests prevent the involvement of America?

Regardless of their orientations, political forces in the Arab region must consider the consequences of aligning themselves with Israel. It is important to note that Israel does not offer anything for free and prioritizes its own interests above all else.

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry

Prof. Miral Sabry AlAshry is Co-lead for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) at the Centre for Freedom of the Media, the Department of Journalism Studies at the University of Sheffield.

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