update deskIsrael at War

Herzog: ICJ genocide case a ‘blood libel’

"We are fighting an exceptionally just campaign," said the Israeli president.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog attends the opening of an exhibition in Tel Aviv of objects collected from the site of the Supernova massacre, Dec. 7, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
Israeli President Isaac Herzog attends the opening of an exhibition in Tel Aviv of objects collected from the site of the Supernova massacre, Dec. 7, 2023. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

Israeli President Isaac Herzog on Sunday night slammed the International Court of Justice for agreeing to hear a case accusing the Jewish state of genocide in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, a charge he described as a “blood libel.”

“We are fighting an exceptionally just campaign. A campaign for the return of the hostages, those who are held and tortured by Hamas murderers in an unparalleled crime against humanity,” said Herzog.

“We are fighting a campaign to restore security to our citizens, women and men, elderly and babies. A whole people which Hamas didn’t just declare their desire to wipe from face of the earth, but actually set out on a brutal massacre to destroy—and is still working hard to do so.

“Israel has the full right to self-defense, and it will continue to be committed to the security of its citizens. Unequivocally. This is a right anchored in the most essential foundations of international law, and in general, everyone with sense can see that Israel is acting in accordance with international law,” continued the president.

“The very fact that the hearing at the court in The Hague was held on the eve of International Holocaust Memorial Day, to judge whether the democratic, moral, and responsible State of Israel, which rose from the ashes of the Holocaust with the overwhelming support of the family of nations and its institutions was guilty of committing genocide, is a blood libel that undermines the very values on which this court was established,” he added.

While the ICJ, the main judicial arm of the United Nations, did not throw out the case, the judges did reject Pretoria’s request to order a halt to the war against Hamas. In its provisional ruling on Friday, the court also dismissed South Africa’s demand that residents of the northern Gaza Strip be allowed to return to the area immediately.

A final decision from the court could take years. Friday’s ruling is binding according to international law, yet the court lacks an enforcement mechanism.

The court, which is based in The Hague, ordered Israel to “take all measures within its power” to prevent the commission of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, to ensure that Israel Defense Forces troops do not commit acts of genocide and to punish alleged public incitement to genocide.

The ruling also called on Jerusalem to “take effective measures to preserve evidence” of military actions that might fall under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide and submit a report to the court within a month.

Israel must also take “immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently-needed, basic services and humanitarian assistance to address the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians” in the enclave, which is controlled by the Hamas terror group.

“To be clear: The State of Israel sees great importance in the humanitarian aspect of the campaign,” said Herzog on Sunday. “Israel is committed to this, and operates, as it has always operated and will operate, in accordance with international law….

“But the reality cannot be ignored,” he continued, “a reality which we all saw with our own eyes as published by Hamas on that cursed day: and that was the involvement of many residents of Gaza in the slaughter, in the looting, and in the riots of Oct. 7. How the crowds in Gaza cheered at the sight of Israelis being slaughtered and their bodies mutilated. At the sight of hostages—God knows what they did to them—wounded and bleeding being dragged through the streets. In view of such terrible crimes, it is appropriate that the honorable court investigates them in depth, and not casually in passing.

“The world must not forget even for a moment: Hamas is responsible for terrible crimes against humanity.”

On Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu similarly described as “absurd” the proceedings against Israel at the ICJ.

“There is no greater absurdity than what occurred…on the eve of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. There were those who came to The Hague to—falsely and outrageously—accuse us of genocide. On whose behalf did they come? On behalf of Hamas, the ‘new Nazis,’ who came to perpetrate genocide against us,” he said.

“I hold here Hitler’s book ‘Mein Kampf’ in Arabic. Our fighters found this book in civilians’ homes in the Gaza Strip. They found extensive antisemitic and Nazi literature there. This is what they educate their children on. Therefore, I insist that after we eliminate Hamas, what is called ‘the day after’ in Gaza, there will be no element that educates its children, not only for terrorism but also for the destruction of Israel, for the destruction of the entire Jewish people,” added the premier.

“I must tell you, the very willingness in The Hague to discuss this ridiculous claim, the very fact that it was not rejected outright, proves that many in the world have not learned anything from the Holocaust. But we have learned from it,” he said.

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