Former supreme court judge says Hague case is an ‘insult to meaning of genocide’

Rosalie Silberman Abella writes that the ICJ move is an ‘abuse of the principles of the international legal order’


The International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands (Photo: Getty)

A former supreme court judge and experts on the laws of war have lined up to voice their outrage over the attempt by South Africa – which has a history of support for Hamas – to prosecute Israel for genocide at the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

As proceedings got under way this week in the Hague this week, Rosalie Silberman Abella, a visiting professor of law at Harvard Law School and former justice of the Supreme Court of Canada, wrote that the ICJ move was an “insult to what genocide means”.

“This case represents an outrageous and cynical abuse of the principles underlying the international legal order that was set up after the Second World War,” she wrote.

“Hamas’s explicit and unapologetic goal is to eliminate Jews. The elimination of Jews is genocide. That is why Hamas murdered, raped, beheaded, kidnapped and tortured Jews on October 7, 2023: to eliminate them, because they were Jews. It is a legal absurdity to suggest that a country that is defending itself from genocide is thereby guilty of genocide,” Abella added.

Arsen Ostrovsky, a human rights attorney and CEO of the International Legal Forum, a coalition of pro-Israel lawyers, called the move a “subversion of international law” that could incite further violence against Jews around the world.

Ostrovsky, who flew to the Hague this week to attend the hearings, said: “Israel, and supporters of the Jewish state, are fighting this war on multiple fronts, not only against Hamas in Gaza, but a war of narratives as well, where a toxic combination of misinformation and subversion of international law, is being used to attack and vilify Israel.

“This pervasive discourse also has very real effect in shaping discussions, leading to policy actions, as well as even inciting alarming surge in antisemitism and Jew hatred we have seen in the UK and across the world, since October 7.”

Menachem Rosensaft, an expert on the laws of war and professor at Cornell University in the US, rubbished the “genocide” claim, saying: “Whatever else Israel is doing, and has done, it is not intending to destroy the Palestinian people; either on the West Bank or in Gaza.”

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