By Nurah Tape – The Palestine Chronicle  

South Africa demonstrated “extraordinary courage by challenging what’s going on, by representing the Palestinian victims in one of the most important courts on earth, the International Court of Justice, and to charge Israel with the most serious charge that can be ever charged … genocide.”

Palestinian human rights lawyer Raji Sourani has said that South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) made history as it brought “the entire Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the world stage,” not politically, but legally.

The country demonstrated “extraordinary courage by challenging what’s going on, by representing the Palestinian victims in one of the most important courts on earth, the International Court of Justice, and to charge Israel with the most serious charge that can be ever charged … genocide,” he stressed.

Sourani, who was a member of South Africa’s legal team in the case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in January, spoke to The Palestine Chronicle on the sidelines of the Global Anti-Apartheid Conference for Palestine held in Johannesburg from May 10 – 12.

Western Complicity

He said with the ICJ case, South Africa made “unique history” as it brought “the entire Palestinian-Israeli conflict to the world stage, not politically, legally-wise.”

The lawyer added that the case showed how “the entire West” and its “partners” were “complicit … in the genocide which is going on for eight consecutive months.”

Asked about the criticism of institutions such as the World Courts, and in particular, the International Criminal Court (ICC) concerning its investigation into the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories, Sourani said: “We have strategical optimism and we know, (we’re) not stupid, (as to) how this system works.”

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He explained, “We have to use the system in the maximum way to our benefit …We are very aware (of) who is there and we are not there in theory. We are there in practice. We are professional enough, independent enough, how to use the system.”

“Israel and the US were critical and threatened the ICC prosecutor, Mr Karim Khan, and I hope he acts according to the rule of law, according to his mandate, and according to the interest of victims whom he should represent in the position he holds,” the lawyer, who is also the Director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza stressed.

‘Plausible’ Case of Genocide

The ICJ ruled in January that South Africa’s case accusing Israel of committing genocide in its military assault on Gaza was plausible.

“I think 70% of the case has been concluded in January 11th, and in January 12th it showed how the Israelis are having no case to answer and they were shaky and were in a very terrible situation, because the case was represented rightly and in an excellent way. Now, let us wait and see how things move,” Sourani said.

He added “We have standards and we have facts and we have conclusions. On these three levels, we think we have the best case to represent and the best case to confront those criminals with.”

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Sourani said, “Israel existed according to the Zionist movement claims – because of the Holocaust and the genocide against them.”

Now Israel “itself” is being accused of “this charge,” he explained, adding “and that’s the greatness of using the system. It shows the complicity of the West when they defended the Israeli position.”

Since January, South Africa has brought urgent applications to the ICJ concerning Israel’s ongoing onslaught on Gaza. The most recent was on Friday when South Africa requested the ICJ issue additional measures regarding the situation in Rafah where more than 1.4 million Palestinians are taking shelter. Israeli forces on Tuesday occupied the Palestinian side of the Rafah crossing with Egypt, effectively cutting off the Palestinians’ connection with the world.

Historical Turning Point

Asked whether the Palestinian struggle is at a turning point, Sourani said “It is a very unique moment where the Israeli war crimes, the crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and its colonial racist mentality (are) in practice through this genocide,” Sourani said when asked whether the Palestinian struggle is at a turning point.

He added: “Yes, it makes it at the peak of the criminality of the occupation, but as well at the peak of resilience and resistance of the Palestinians and their supporters; free committed people across the globe.”

Sourani was one of several keynote speakers at the conference which aimed to set the basis for the mobilization of a Global Anti-Apartheid Movement “to hold Israel accountable for its crimes against the Palestinian people, and to work to dismantle Israeli apartheid,” according to the conference organizers.

Evoking Article 62 – Nicaragua Asks to Join South Africa in ICJ Genocide Case

Turkiye, Ireland, Nicaragua and Colombia, are among the countries that have since announced its intention to join South Africa’s case against Israel at the ICJ.

Johannesburg Declaration

The Johannesburg Declaration on Israel’s Settler-Colonialism, Apartheid and Genocide was issued at the conclusion of the conference.

“We, inspired by, and many of us having been part of, the global Anti-Apartheid Movement that helped end apartheid in South Africa and Namibia, now rise, as the continuation of that movement, to confront the settler-colonialism and apartheid of Israel and its backers,” the Declaration stated.

Speakers included Naledi Pandor, South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Cooperation; Yvonne Dausab, Namibia’s Justice Minister; Mustafa Barghouti, member of the Palestinian Legislative Council; Dr Ahmet Davutoğlu, the former Turkish Prime Minister; and Declan Kearney, Chairperson of the Ireland’s Sinn Fein party,

The Conference Declaration vowed “to ensure Israel and those complicit in its genocide are held accountable (and) to support the struggle for the liberation of the Palestinian people.”

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Over 35,000 Killed

Currently on trial before the International Court of Justice for genocide against Palestinians, Israel has been waging a devastating war on Gaza since October 7.

According to Gaza’s Ministry of Health, 35,233 Palestinians have been killed, and 79,141.

Moreover, at least 11,000 people are unaccounted for, presumed dead under the rubble of their homes throughout the Strip.

Palestinian and international organizations say that the majority of those killed and wounded are women and children.

The Israeli war has resulted in an acute famine, mostly in northern Gaza, resulting in the death of many Palestinians, mostly children.

The Israeli aggression has also resulted in the forceful displacement of nearly two million people from all over the Gaza Strip, with the vast majority of the displaced forced into the densely crowded southern city of Rafah near the border with Egypt – in what has become Palestine’s largest mass exodus since the 1948 Nakba.

Israel says that 1,200 soldiers and civilians were killed during the Al-Aqsa Flood Operation on October 7. Israeli media published reports suggesting that many Israelis were killed on that day by ‘friendly fire’. #palestineafrica2024

(The Palestine Chronicle)

– Nurah Tape is a South Africa-based journalist. She is an editor with The Palestine Chronicle.

The post ‘Strategic Optimism’ – Raji Sourani Says South Africa’s case against Israel Made History (VIDEO) appeared first on Palestine Chronicle.

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