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On January 26, the International Court of Justice proved once again that it is mired in the putrid fermenting swamp of Western corruption, decay and injustice with its pro-Israeli ruling in the legal case South Africa brought against Israel for committing genocide in its attacks on the people of Gaza.

The Western commentators, everyone, left or right, to cover up the real meaning of the ruling, to justify it, claimed that Israel had been ordered to stop genocide. The Court did nothing of the kind. It simply reminded Israel to obey the laws of war but refused to grant the South African request for an order compelling Israel to stop its operations and to withdraw its forces. The Court did the opposite and allowed Israel to continue its campaign of genocide. Essentially, the Court said, “Your genocide attack can continue, just behave yourselves as you commit genocide.”

The logic is lost on everyone except the deluded talking heads of the West. Russian and Chinese media largely ignored the ruling. And for good reason, because the ICJ and the commentators ignored the important fact that the ICJ, just 22 months before, issued a ruling in the case that Ukraine brought against Russia regarding its military operations in Ukraine. The Kiev regime, with the help of its masters in Washington, filed a case with the ICJ against Russia alleging that Russia was committing genocide. Unlike the Israeli case, Ukraine filed no evidence before the ICJ to back up its false allegations. Russia refused to take part as the ICJ had no jurisdiction since there was no dispute between Russia and Ukraine on the issue, that is, no formal dispute about genocide or no genocide, and further because Russia’s action were purely military in nature, and there was and has been no attack on the civilian population of Ukraine except by the Kiev Nazis attacking the civilians of the Donbass Republics and Russia. Russia told the ICJ it had no jurisdiction and refused to take part in a farce.

But despite the fact there was no jurisdiction for the ICJ to act, and no evidence of genocide or any war crimes were presented to the Court by Ukraine except simple assertions, the ICJ on March 16, 2022 made a provisional order that Russia must stop its military operations and withdraw its forces.

The double standard is stunning. The more so since even in the ICJ ruling on the 26th of January 2023, the judges of the Court cited the compelling evidence presented by South Africa that proved that Israel was and is committing genocide against the Palestinians, Yet, the judges of the ICJ ignored their own references to this evidence and instead accepted the Israeli sophistry that Israel has a right to defend itself and that it was trying to obey the laws of war.

But the law is very clear Israel has no right to self defence under international law against legitimate attacks by resistance forces on its forces engaged in the illegal occupation of Palestinian territories.  The Hama attack of October 7, 2022 was an attack against the Israel occupation forces. Israel has no legal right to retaliate whatsoever. Its only legal recourse in the face of such an attack is to withdraw its forces.

No only did the Court display vividly its hypocrisy and double standards by ruling that Russia must stop its military actions in defence of the Donbass peoples and Russia, while permitting Israel to continue its campaign of slaughter, and by ignoring the law that Israel has no right to self defence, it even purported to make an order, or to “urge” Hamas to release the Israeli hostages it holds, even though Hamas is not a party to the South African-Israeli case and even though the Court refused to order the Israelis to release the thousands of Palestinian hostages it has held for years, including women and children, some of the then born in Israeli prisons.

Prime Minister Netanyahu of Israel rightly scoffed at the ICJ ruling, stating the Israeli war will continue and that Israel is already complying with the laws of war. Washington, London, Ottawa and the rest all welcomed the decision and that it upheld Israel’s right to self-defence. Commentators, trying to put a brave face on the ruling to save face for South Africa, wrung their hands and moaned there was no ceasefire order but whimpered at least the Israelis were told to watch they behaviour and that the ruling confirmed Israel was committing genocide.

Well, twist the ruling anyway they want, it does not say that at all, The judges said South Africa had presented evidence that made that claim of genocide plausible, but did not affirm it was taking place.  That remains to be determined when the main case is argued some time in the unknown future and unless these commentators can collapse Time and have a future decision now, they are stuck with what they have, a loss for South Africa, a win for Israel and a continuing tragedy for Palestine.

But the lawyers for South Africa have some explaining to do themselves, as they left the door open for this injustice. Their opening remarks in the oral hearings of the case began with a recitation of the Israeli propaganda version of the October 7 Hamas attack. There was no need for them to have done that. They should have instead simply stated the fact that Hamas attacked Israeli forces illegally occupying Palestinian territory in a legitimate resistance attack. They should have stated firmly that Israel has no right of self-defence against such an attack. But they did not state that. In fact, they evaded the issue entirely and when the British lawyer for Israel stated in his opening remarks that Hamas attack “Israeli sovereign territory, the lawyers should have risen immediately and objected that was a lie. But they did nothing, said nothing.”

And despite the fact the Irish lawyer for South Africa referenced Russia’s military operations in Ukraine and, by the way, in a disparaging manner, never once reminded the Court that just 22 months prior they had ordered Russia to stop its military operations where no evidence was presented of crimes so that the Court now had no choice but to order Israel to stop its military operations in Gaza, It was not mentioned at all. The failure to do so was fatal to their case and as a lawyer, can only be explained by negligence and incompetence, or a deliberate decision was made to not refer to that precedent. And one made so recently.

Why their legal team would decide such a thing I will leave for readers to ponder. But it seems to this writer that South Africa was trying to please two sides at the same time, the global south by filing the action in the first place, which we all commend, and the West, that is Washington, by providing the Court with space to make a decision which would allow Israel to get away with the very thing South Africa brought the case to prevent-genocide.

Once again we observe the injustice of the international legal justice system, the corruption of and within that system, and, once again, that international justice is just a tool of power politics and instead of serving to stop war, does its best to enable it, justify it and encourage it.  The fumes from the swamp have become overwhelming. But who is going to drain that swamp before we all die from suffocation from the stench?

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.


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