Gaza ‘is no genocide, South Africa tells half the story’, argues UK lawyer defending Israel

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Gaza ‘is no genocide, South Africa tells half the story’, argues UK lawyer defending Israel

Apprearing before judges at the International Court of Justice to defend Israel, Professor Malcolm Shaw outlines why South Africa's charge of 'genocide' is false

Lee Harpin is the Jewish News's political editor

Professor Malcolm Shaw outlines Israel's defence against genocide charges
Professor Malcolm Shaw outlines Israel's defence against genocide charges

The British barrister representing Israel at the International Court of Justice has emphatically denied claims made by South Africa that “genocide” has been committed against the Palestinian people in Gaza as he appeared in front of judges on the second day of the hearing at The Hague.

Casting doubts over the entire credibility of the South African case lodged against Israel, Professor Malcolm Shaw said:”This is no genocide. South Africa tells us only half the story.”

The international law expert, who is acting as Israel’s defense representative, added:”Not every conflict is genocidal. The crime of genocide is a uniquely malicious crime. It’s the crime of crimes.

“If claims of genocide were to become the common currency of armed conflict whenever and wherever that occurred, the essence of this crime would be diluted and lost.” 

Pro-Israel activists outside The Hague

Shaw also set out to tackle first hand further central claims made in South Africa’s case against the Jewish state. 

He argued Israel did not have the needed “special intent” to commit crimes under the Genocide Convention and added that if IDF soldiers had violated laws of war, they will be judged within Israel’s “robust” legal system. 

Shaw stated, “Were it the case, which we deny, that Israeli forces have transgressed some rules of conflict, then the matter would be tackled at the appropriate time, by Israel’s independent and robust legal system. But that is not the intent to destroy in whole or in part of a people as such.”

He also challenged claims that inflammatory comments by a succession of far-right ministers and Knesset members calling for the elimination of Palestinians from Gaza did not reflect overall government policy  

“Choosing random quotes not in conformity with government policy is misleading at best,” said Shaw.

Opening Israel’s defence to the charge of genocide at the ICJ , Tal Becker, legal adviser of the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, on Friday accused South Africa of providing a “profoundly distorted and factual legal picture” in its case against the Jewish state.Becker even suggested South Africa’s argument has been “barely distinguishable” from the claims put out by terror group Hamas themselves.

Giving detailed, and often graphic descriptions of the atrocities committed by Hamas, Becker said  it was  “impossible to understand the armed conflict in Gaza without appreciating the nature of the threat” that Israel faced.

“It is impossible to understand the armed conflict in Gaza without appreciating the nature of the threat that Israel is facing and the brutality and lawlessness of the armed force confronting it,” Becker said.

The Israeli foreign ministry’s legal adviser  told the court that South Africa’s interpretation of events was “grossly distorted”.

“If there were acts of genocide, they have been perpetrated against Israel,” he said. “Hamas seeks genocide against Israel.

“But he accepted this did not mean Israel did not have a duty to comply with international law itself, but that it had an “inherent right to defend itself” after the October 7th attack.

“What Israel is doing in Gaza is not to destroy people but to protect people. Its people,” he said.

“Israel is in a war of defence against Hamas, not against the Palestinian people.”Israeli Deputy Attorney General, Gilad Noam, told the ICJ panel.

He said that the “shock and deep pain that has affected Israelis since Oct. 7 naturally led to harsh statements on the enemy who is committed to destruct Jews and Israelis. ”

Naom said that “any statement calling for intentional harm to civilians contradicts the policy of Israel and may amount to a criminal offense, including incitement. Several such cases are examined in Israeli law enforcement system.”

A group of pro-Israel activists gathered outside The Hague on the second day of the hearing.

A final decision by judges will take years to reach, but South Africa are seeking an interim ruling, in an attempt to try to bring Israel’s actions against Hamas in Gaza to a halt.

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