Caracas, January 10, 2024 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela has issued a statement backing South Africa’s genocide case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).
“Venezuela, as a country committed to diplomacy for peace, recognizes South Africa’s firm and historic step in defense of the Palestinian people and international law,” stated the communique released by the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry on Tuesday.
The text also encouraged the international community to support South Africa’s legal action and urged multilateral justice institutions to “act in accordance with international law” and “rise to the seriousness” of the current events in the Gaza Strip “that constitute a clear aggression against humanity.”
Venezuela has consistently condemned Israel’s US-backed occupation, military attacks and apartheid regime against the Palestinian people since the Hugo Chávez era. In 2009, the former president broke diplomatic ties with Israel after a deadly assault on Gaza.
For his part, President Nicolás Maduro has repeatedly accused Israel of carrying out genocide against the Palestinian people and has recently reaffirmed his country’s “unconditional support” for Palestine’s liberation struggle. Caracas likewise sent a humanitarian aid shipment to Gaza.
On December 29, the government of South Africa filed a lawsuit at the ICJ, also known as the World Court, accusing Israel of violating the 1948 Genocide Convention in its ongoing military assault in Gaza. The 84-page document details evidence of Israel’s crimes from the slaughter, inhumane treatment and arbitrary detention of Palestinian civilians to the use of hunger and disease as weapons of war.
The lawsuit likewise cites expressions of genocidal intent by Israeli leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Isaac Herzog and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant.
Since October 7, the bombings and ground incursions carried out by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have killed more than 23,000 Palestinians, with almost 10,000 of them being children. According to the UN, 1.9 million people (over 85 percent of Gaza’s population) have been displaced and at least 26 hospitals out of 36 have been destroyed by Israeli bombs. Additionally, one out of every four Palestinians in Gaza is starving. Over 100 journalists and 142 UN staff members in Gaza have been killed as well.
The ICJ will hold its first hearings on January 11 and 12. Although it is the highest UN legal body, the Hague-based court lacks the authority to enforce its decisions. In the event of Israel being formally charged with genocide, the responsibility for carrying out the verdict would rest with the UN Security Council, where the five permanent members (the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Russia, China, and France) hold veto power.
The Genocide Convention has been ratified by 153 countries, including Israel and South Africa, and was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948 following the Second World War in order to prevent another Holocaust from happening or punish its perpetrators.
Other countries that have welcomed South Africa’s ICJ case against Israel are Bolivia, Nicaragua, Malaysia, Turkey, Jordan, The Maldives, Namibia and the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC), which has 57 members including Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan and Morocco.
Besides countries, many human rights and advocacy groups worldwide have joined South Africa’s call. On January 3, the newly-formed International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP) issued a sign-on letter that has garnered over 800 organizational endorsements.
In turn, the United States has declared its opposition to South Africa’s genocide case. On January 3, National Security spokesperson John Kirby said the lawsuit against Israel was “meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis.” As of the time of writing, the European Union (EU) has not made any statement regarding the ICJ lawsuit.
Apart from the legal action taken against Israel at the World Court, Bolivia has submitted a request to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Karim Khan, along with South Africa, Bangladesh, Comoros, and Djibouti, urging an investigation into the situation in Palestine. The ICC, based in The Hague, is responsible for probing crimes against humanity and bringing individuals to trial.