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War on Gaza: Turkey backs South Africa 'genocide' case against Israel at ICJ

Ankara says Israel's crimes against humanity in Gaza should not go unpunished in another deterioration in ties between the two states
Holding banners, the Palestinian and Turkish flags, thousands demonstrate to show solidarity with the Palestinian people amid the ongoing war between Israel and the Palestinian Hamas group in the Gaza enclave, at the Galata Bridge in Istanbul on January 1, 2024.  (YASIN AKGUL/AFP)
Thousands demonstrate to show solidarity with the Palestinian people at the Galata Bridge in Istanbul on 1 January (AFP/Yasin Akgul)
By Ragip Soylu in Istanbul

Turkey has officially backed South Africa’s case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, which accuses the state of genocide in its ongoing war on Gaza.

Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson Oncu Keceli said in a statement that Ankara welcomes the South African case, which says Israel has violated its obligations under the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

“Israel's murder of more than 22,000 Palestinian civilians, the majority of whom were women and children, in Gaza for nearly three months should not go unpunished in any way," Keceli said.

"Those responsible for this must be held accountable before international law,” he continued, adding: “We hope that the process will be completed as soon as possible.”

South Africa filed the case last month and wants an order calling on Israel to halt its military operations in the besieged enclave.

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It said such an order is "necessary in this case to protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people".

"Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza," South Africa's application said.

Interim injunction

South Africa has requested that the ICJ declare "on an urgent basis that Israel is in breach of its obligations in terms of the Genocide Convention, should immediately cease all acts and measures in breach of those obligations and take a number of related actions".

Keceli said Turkey also expects that the court will issue an interim injunction ordering Israel to stop its attacks on Gaza, adding that Ankara would follow the implementation of such a decision. 

War on Gaza: South Africa launches International Court of Justice case accusing Israel of genocide
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War broke out in Israel and Gaza on 7 October, when Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups launched an attack on Israel that killed 1,200 Israelis and other nationals, according to the government death toll.

Meanwhile, Israel has killed more than 22,000 Palestinians in its aerial bombing campaign and ground assault, with the majority killed being women and children, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

Israel's military forces have targeted many types of civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, residential neighbourhoods, ambulances, and mosques.

Entire neighbourhoods in the besieged enclave have been completely levelled.

The UN's Genocide Convention and the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court define genocide as acts "committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group".

Legal experts, UN officials, and more than 800 scholars have already warned that Israel is potentially committing genocide against Palestinians.

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