Israel-Hamas war: Palestinians accuse Israelis of “apartheid” at the International Court of Justice

At the opening of a hearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the head of Palestinian diplomacy, Riyad Al-Maliki, affirmed, Monday February 19, that his people are suffering “colonialism and apartheid” from the hands of of Israel

Israel-Hamas war: Palestinians accuse Israelis of “apartheid” at the International Court of Justice

At the opening of a hearing before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the head of Palestinian diplomacy, Riyad Al-Maliki, affirmed, Monday February 19, that his people are suffering “colonialism and apartheid” from the hands of of Israel.

“Some are outraged by these words, but they should be outraged by the reality that is ours,” declared Mr. Al-Maliki, before the highest court of the UN. The ICJ is holding hearings from Monday on the legal consequences of Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, with an unprecedented number of 52 countries called to testify. The United States, Russia and even China will address the judges during a session spread over a week at the Peace Palace in The Hague, headquarters of the ICJ.

These hearings are being held after the adoption of a resolution by the United Nations General Assembly on December 31, 2022, requesting a non-binding “advisory opinion” from the ICJ on the “legal consequences arising from Israel’s policies and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”

The ICJ is also invited to examine the consequences of what the UN resolution describes as “the adoption by Israel of discriminatory laws and measures”. She must give her opinion on how Israel's actions "affect the legal status of the occupation" and what consequences it has for the United Nations and other countries.

A “despicable” resolution for Benjamin Netanyahu

The resolution was adopted with 87 votes for, 26 against, and 53 abstentions, with Western states divided on the issue, while Arab countries unanimously voted in favor. For its part, Israel, which has indicated that it will not participate in the hearings, castigated the 2022 UN resolution, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu describing it as “despicable” and “shameful”.

These hearings are entirely separate from South Africa's recent requests to the UN's main judicial body. Pretoria had referred the matter to the ICJ, arguing that Israel's operations in Gaza following the October 7 terrorist attack by Hamas amounted to a violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. On January 26, the Court ordered Israel to prevent any possible acts of genocide, but did not call for a ceasefire.

On Friday, she rejected a second request from South Africa to order new measures after Israel announced an upcoming military offensive in Rafah, where more than half of the 2.4 million people Gaza residents took refuge.