South Africa

WATCH: ‘Liars’ – Israeli lawyer heckled in SA’s genocide case at ICJ

An Israeli lawyer was heckled when presenting her country’s case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday.

Israel told the ICJ it rejects South Africa’s attempt to stop the assault on Rafah in Gaza, arguing that South Africa has a “clear ulterior motive” in pushing its genocide case.

Israel was presenting arguments on the second day of the two days of hearings which was briefly interrupted when a woman shouted “liars” during the Israeli submission before being removed by security guards.

Watch Tamar Kaplan Tourgeman being heckled by an observer at the ICJ


Tamar Kaplan Tourgeman, a lawyer for Israel’s foreign affairs ministry, was heckled when she presented her arguments before the ICJ.

“The state of Israel requests the court to reject the notification and indication of provisional measures submitted by the Republic of South Africa.”

An observer heckled Tourgeman after she submitted counter-evidence against South Africa’s petition to impose provisional measures on Israel under the Genocide Convention.

“Liars, liars,” screamed the observer.

Tourgeman looked up at the public gallery in shock before the official ICJ live stream was stopped and the woman escorted out by security.

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SA Hamas’ ally

During Friday’s hearing, Israeli justice ministry official Gilad Noam called South Africa’s case, which accuses Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, “completely divorced from facts and circumstance”.

“South Africa purports to describe Rafah as a last refuge for civilians in Gaza. While many civilians have indeed evacuated to Rafah over the past few months, the fact remains that the city of Rafah also serves as a military stronghold for Hamas which continues to pose a significant threat to the state of Israel and its citizens.”

Noam claims South Africa has an ulterior motive.

“South Africa purports to come before you as the guardian of humanity. In fact, it has a clear ulterior motive when it asks you to order Israel to stay away from Rafah and to withdraw all its troops from Gaza.

“It does so in order to obtain a military advantage for its ally Hamas which it does not wish to see defeated,” Noam said.

Gaza genocide

On Thursday, South Africa’s lawyers delivered their arguments in a fresh application as part of its genocide case against Israel, asking the ICJ to order an immediate halt to Israel’s war in Gaza and protect civilians in the Palestinian enclave.

It is also seeking to force Israel to allow “unimpeded access” to Gaza for aid workers, journalists and investigators.

South Africa argued that Israel’s latest full-scale assault on the southern city of Rafah, where about 1.5 million Palestinians live, is the “last step in the destruction of all of Gaza” and that the court must order Israel to halt its military activity and withdraw its forces entirely.

Advocate Tembeka Ngcukatoibi argued genocidal intent by Israel’s leaders in statements made since the court last ordered additional provisional measures in March.

“Such language continues to be widespread alongside calls by Israeli soldiers on the ground to conquer, flatten, erase, destroy Gaza and after that Ramallah (in the West Bank) also. Israeli soldiers serving in Gaza continue to openly call for the deaths to Arabs declaring ‘may you burn alive,’ Gaza is burning,’ ‘We will burn your mother’ and that all of Shuja’iyya (one of the largest neighbourhoods in Gaza City) will burn in flames.

“Israel’s aim is to do no less than what its own minister of finance has stated, namely to ensure the total annihilation of Palestinians, that will erase the memory [of] Amalek. He has also called for Rafah to be completely conquered, the sooner the better,” Ngcukatoibi argued.

Ngcukatoibi argued that Israel’s “genocidal intent continues to receive support and endorsement at the Knesset.”

ICJ ruling

The ICJ will now begin its deliberation in the case.

Judges at the ICJ have previously issued provisional measures, ordering Israel to take actions to limit suffering of people in Gaza.

In March, the ICJ agreed with South Africa’s assertion that the situation in Gaza had deteriorated significantly since the initial order on 26 January, which Israel has failed to comply with.

The United Nations’ top court granted South Africa’s urgent request to enforce additional emergency measures against Israel, accusing it of violating existing measures and causing irreparable harm to the rights invoked by Pretoria under the 1948 Genocide Convention in respect of the ongoing siege of Gaza.

At least 35 303 people have been killed, the vast majority women and children while 79 261 have been wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since 7 October.

The revised death toll in Israel from Hamas’s attacks stands at 1 139 with dozens still held captive.

ALSO READ: ICJ agrees with SA and orders Israel to ensure more aid reaches Gaza