This South African Lawyer Outlined How Israel Has Been Using Language To Call For A Genocide To The ICJ

South African lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi demonstrated how genocidal speech has been reiterated and repeated throughout Israel and embodied in state policy.

This South African Lawyer Outlined How Israel Has Been Using Language To Call For A Genocide To The ICJ

As part of its International Court of Justice (ICJ) case against Israel committing genocide in Gaza, South Africa’s team of international lawyers presented the ways in which it says Israel has demonstrated its intent to commit genocide, which would constitute a violation of the 1948 Genocide Convention.

During the first day of the ICJ hearing on Thursday Jan. 11, South African lawyer Tembeka Ngcukaitobi presented a section focused on demonstrating how Israel uses rhetoric to demonstrate its intent to commit genocide.

According to the Genocide Convention, genocide is defined as any of the following acts committed with the “intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national ethnic, racial or religious group”.

These include:
1. Killing members of the group;
2. Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
3. Deliberately imposing living conditions intended to destroy the group
4. Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
5. Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.

In his speech, Ngcukaitobi first pointed to evidence provided by fellow South Africa lawyer Adila Hassim that demonstrated how Israel is committing the first four acts through its military conduct, which has left 1% of the Palestinian population in Gaza “systematically decimated”.

However, he said that the case was “extraordinary” in that Israel’s political leaders, military commanders and officials have systematically and explicitly declared their intent to commit genocide.

Ngcukaitobi cited several examples of comments and speeches from top level officials such as Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant employing dehumanizing language and calling the people of Gaza “human animals” when imposing a total blockade on Gaza at the beginning of the war.

“Members of the Knesset have repeatedly called for Gaza to be wiped out, flattened, erased and crushed on all its inhabitants. They have deplored anyone feeling sorry for the uninvolved Gazans, asserting repeatedly that there are no one uninvolved, that there are no innocents in Gaza, that the killers of the women and children should not be separated from the citizens of Gaza, and that the children of Gaza have brought this upon themselves and that there should be one sentence for everyone – death,” he said.

He also cited a speech from Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to ground troops about to enter Gaza, when Netanyahu invoked a biblical reference of “remember what Amalek has done to you”.

“This refers to the Biblical command by God to Saul for the retaliatory destruction of an entire group of people,” Ngcukaitobi said.

He said that the genocidal rhetoric from Israel’s leaders had been passed onto and understood by Israeli soldiers, who have been filmed celebrating them destroying Gaza, as well as parts of civil society.

He gave examples of famous singers repeating Netanyahu’s speech and journalists and commentators declaring that “the woman is an enemy, the baby is an enemy, the pregnant woman is an enemy, that it is necessary to turn the strip into a slaughterhouse.”

Ngcukaitobi concluded by saying that many people committing grave atrocities have claimed that they were misunderstood or their words have been taken out of context because no state would admit to genocidal intent.

However, he said that in the case of Israel, genocidal speech has been reiterated and repeated throughout every sphere of state of Israel and embodied in state policy.

“Any suggestion that Israeli officials did not mean what they said or were not fully understood by soldiers and civilians alike to mean what they should said should be rejected by this court,” he said. “The evidence of genocidal intent is not only chilling. It is also overwhelming and incontrovertible.”

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