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  • Writer's pictureMichael Laxer

800+ Global Groups Back South Africa's Genocide Case as ICJ Prepares for Hearing

"The very least states can do is to submit Declarations of Intervention as a small part of fulfilling their obligations under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention," said a peace coalition.

By Julia Conley, Common Dreams

An international peace coalition announced Monday that more than 800 civil society organizations from across the globe have endorsed its sign-on letter distributed to world governments, urging leaders to join South Africa in formally accusing Israel of genocidal violence at the United Nations' highest judicial body.

When Common Dreams first reported on the sign-on letter last Wednesday, just over 100 groups had joined the call.

The surge of support comes as the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, is scheduled to hold a hearing on South Africa's case on Thursday and Friday.

The International Coalition to Stop Genocide in Palestine (ICSGP)—which includes the National Lawyers Guild, the Black Alliance for Peace, World Beyond War, and Progressive International, among other groups—is calling on governments to "reinforce [South Africa's] strongly worded and well-argued complaint by immediately filing a Declaration of Intervention" at the court.

The declarations could increase the likelihood that the ICJ sides with South Africa in the case, says the coalition.

In recent days, Turkey, Malaysia, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, which represents 57 member-states, have all endorsed South Africa's 84-page claim, which details genocidal rhetoric in public statements made by high-level Israeli officials as well as the Israeli military's actions in Gaza.

Jordan's government also said Thursday that it "will be preparing the necessary legal documents in consultation with legal experts to support South Africa's file," according to The New Arab, suggesting it is preparing a Declaration of Intervention.

"Members of ICGSP are working closely with a number of other countries that are in the process of doing the same," said the coalition.

As Common Dreams reported Monday, a member of Israel's Knesset also announced he was backing South Africa's lawsuit in order to "fight for our existence as a moral society."

Organizations that have endorsed the coalition's call span the globe and include Terreiro Pindorama in Brazil, Asociacion Nacional de Amistad Italia-Cuba in Italy, and Collectif Judeo Arabe et Citoyen pour la Palestine in France.

In addition to distributing the sign-on letter, the groups are urging organizations to join actions of support at The Hague "and to hold local rallies and vigils, including expressions of gratitude and solidarity at South African embassies, this week" as South Africa prepares to make its case.

Lamis Deek, co-founder of the Global Legal Alliance for Palestine, said that with the case looming, "the sincerity of states' commitment to the principles of the Geneva and Genocide conventions is now under heavy scrutiny."

"The South African filing before the ICJ marks a critical juncture which tests the global will to salvage the laws and systems which were designed to safeguard not merely human rights, but to preserve humanity itself," said Deek. "Genocide is the highest crime and none has been so publicly documented as the Israeli genocide in Palestine... The very least states can do is to submit Declarations of Intervention as a small part of fulfilling their obligations under Article 1 of the Genocide Convention, to assure their people—and humanity—that they have lost neither their moral compass nor abdicated their obligations under international law."

Israel and its key allies, including the U.S., have been increasingly isolated in pushing for the continuation of the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, which has killed over 23,000 people so far, more than two-thirds of whom were women and children despite Israel's claim that it is targeting Hamas fighters.

The U.S. alone vetoed a cease-fire resolution at the U.N. Security Council last month, and was joined by just nine other countries in opposing a similar resolution at the U.N. General Assembly, while 153 governments supported the measure. The U.S. has also vociferously denied that Israel is committing a genocide despite clear indications otherwise from the Israeli government.

While hundreds of civil society groups have joined the ICSGP's call, Israel has launched its own pressure campaign urging governments to denounce South Africa's allegations.

Morgan Ody, general coordinator of La Vía Campesina International, which is backing the coalition, called on governments, "in particular progressive governments and those in the Global South, to do everything in their power to stop Israel's apartheid and colonization."

"Those governments have the responsibility to coordinate their efforts in order to ensure a future for Palestine and for all Palestinian people," said Ody, "and to make sure that those responsible for Israel's crimes against humanity are held accountable."

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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