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Turning the victim into the perpetrator: South Africa’s case against Israel

An Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET) Webinar

South Africa brought charges against Israel to the International Court of Justice in the Hague on Dec. 29 for alleged violations of the Genocide Convention in its current military operations against Hamas. Following the terrorist attacks on Israel by as many as 2,000 Hamas terrorists on Oct. 7, in which more than 1,200 Israelis were barbarically massacred, and approximately 240 Israelis were kidnapped, Israel commenced its military campaign in Gaza.

Are the actions of the Israel Defense Forces justified legally, ethically and morally? Is Israel’s response to the attacks disproportionate, and does it constitute “genocide” under international law?” Is Israel allowed to use a strong amount of force to eliminate the threat emanating from Hamas? What responsibility does Israel have towards the civilians of Gaza? How are the arguments on both sides of this issue framed?

About the Speaker: Amichai Cohen is an expert on international law and the law of armed conflict. Professor Amichai Cohen is a member of the Faculty of Law at Ono Academic College. He earned his LL.B. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and his LL.M. and LL.D. from Yale Law School at Yale University.

He has previously served as the dean of the faculty of Law at the Ono Academic College; and as a visiting professor at American University- Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., and at Columbia Law School in New York. He was also a visiting scholar at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom and the Swiss Institute of Comparative Law in Lausanne.

His books include Israel’s National Security Law: Political Dynamics and Historical Development (Routledge, 2011, with Stuart A. Cohen; Hebrew edition, 2014); Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions (Hebrew, 2020); and Proportionality in International Humanitarian Law: Consequences, Precautions and Procedures (with David Zlotogorski, Oxford UP, 2021).

At the IDI, Cohen focuses on issues of the International Law of Armed Conflict, National Security Law, and Civil-Military Relations. His work on investigations of alleged war crimes was cited extensively in the Turkel Commission Report and the report of the U.N.’s Independent Commission of Inquiry on the 2014 Gaza Conflict.

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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