ICJ won’t stop Israel fighting, not The Hague, no one: Netanyahu

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 Israel will not be deterred by the International Court of Justice from pursuing its Gaza war until total victory, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, after South Africa lodged a lawsuit alleging genocide against the Palestinians.

“No one will stop us – not The Hague, not the Axis of Evil, no one,” Netanyahu said in a televised address.

Test for humanity

Palestinians in the occupied West Bank welcomed the case brought by South Africa in the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of genocide, saying the proceedings were an opportunity to hold Israel to account for its military assault in Gaza.

Rally in solidarity with people of Gaza:

Israel plans a “huge” addition to its defence budget as part of a build-up designed to cover its needs for years to come, Netanyahu said on Saturday, adding that one goal was an independent military manufacturing sector.

Briefing reporters, he said an inter-ministerial panel would in eight weeks present plans for “the huge additional (funding), to create that independence in force build-up and in other things required to ensure our security in the coming years”.Israel has reacted with outrage at the charges brought against it, describing the accusation as “profoundly distorted” and saying South Africa’s bid to make it halt its offensive against the Hamas movement in Gaza would leave it defenceless.

But for many Palestinians, the charges represent a chance to bring world attention to what they see as Israel’s historic suppression of their fundamental rights, and South African flags were flown in many cities in the West Bank.

“Israel was built upon the crimes it committed against the Palestinian people,” Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh told a rally at Nelson Mandela Square in Ramallah, where marchers defying the winter rains chanted “Thank you South Africa!”

Israel said it launched an air and ground offensive to annihilate Hamas, the militant Islamist movement that rules the blockaded strip, after the group’s fighters led an attack on Israeli communities, during which Israel says 1,200 people were killed and 240 taken hostage in the deadliest day in the country’s 75-year history.

In the three months since Oct. 7, Palestinian health authorities say more than 23,400 Palestinians, mostly children and women, have been killed in the Israeli bombardment, with some 7,000 believed to be still missing under the rubble.

Israel says the South African case attempts to “weaponize” the term genocide – a word coined by a Polish Jew who witnessed the World War Two Nazi Holocaust against Jews in Europe – delegitimizes the existence of the state of Israel and disregards the responsibility of Hamas.

South Africa told the court on Thursday that Israel’s offensive aimed to bring about “the destruction of the population” of Gaza. It said Israel’s political and military leaders, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, were among “the genocidal inciters”.

Most of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been forced from their homes in a strip that has been in large part laid waste, where the health system has largely collapsed, and the United Nations says restrictions on food and medical aid deliveries have left thousands hungry and at risk of disease.

“This is a test for humanity,” said Bassam Zakarneh, a member of the Revolutionary Council of the Fatah movement that dominates the Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self rule in the West Bank.

Hypocrisy and lies

Netanyahu said on Thursday that hypocrisy and lies had been presented to the U.N.’s top court, adding that South Africa’s accusation against Israel of genocide in Gaza could only happen in a world turned upside-down.

“We are fighting terrorists, we are fighting lies,” Netanyahu said. “Today we saw an upside-down world. Israel is accused of genocide while it is fighting against genocide.”

“Israel is fighting murderous terrorists who carried out crimes against humanity: They slaughtered, they raped, they burned, they dismembered, they beheaded – children, women, elderly, young men and women,” he said.

“The hypocrisy of South Africa screams to the heavens,” Netanyahu said. “Where was South Africa when millions of people were killed or torn from their homes in Syria and Yemen, by whom? By partners of Hamas.”

Netanyahu said Israel would maintain the right to defend itself until it had achieved “total victory.”

SA-Israel ICJ case | Tembeka Ngcukaitobi SC