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South Africa presents genocide case against Israel as Yemen strikes begin

South Africa's Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola, centre, and Palestinian assistant Minister of Multilateral Affairs Ammar Hijazi, third right, address the press in The Hague.
South Africa's Minister of Justice Ronald Lamola, centre, and Palestinian assistant Minister of Multilateral Affairs Ammar Hijazi, third right, address the press in The Hague. Copyright Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2024 The AP All rights reserved
Copyright Ohad Zwigenberg/Copyright 2024 The AP All rights reserved
By Euronews with AP
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The latest developments from the Israel-Hamas war.

South Africa lays out arguments in genocide court case

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In a landmark case at the International Court of Justice, South Africa has formally accused Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians.

Urging the United Nations' top court to immediately halt Israeli military operations in Gaza. 

The case, which challenges Israel's national identity, is a rare instance of Israeli leaders engaging with the court to defend their international reputation. 

Despite Israel's denial of the allegations, South African lawyers argue that the recent Gaza war is part of a long history of Israeli oppression against Palestinians. 

In a packed room of the Peace Palace in The Hague, South African lawyer Adila Hassim told the judges and audience that the court “has the benefit of the past 13 weeks of evidence that shows incontrovertibly a pattern of conduct and related intention” that amounts to “a plausible claim of genocidal acts”.

Palestinian viewers captivated by courtroom scenes

Palestinians across the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem closely followed the proceedings, gathering in homes and local establishments to watch the unprecedented case unfold. 

“I am amazed at the fact that the international community is trying to hold Israel accountable,” Assalah Mansour, a 25-year-old lawyer, said from the northern West Bank city of Nablus. The hearing in The Hague was the talk of the town on Thursday, she said.

“For the first time, I felt like this case restored the Palestinian people’s hope in the international community,” Mansour said.

Israel, recognising the symbolic importance of the case, has chosen to defend itself in person. South Africa seeks binding preliminary orders from the court to compel Israel to cease its ongoing military campaign in Gaza.

Protesters shout slogans outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague as the genocide case against Israel begins.
Protesters shout slogans outside the International Court of Justice in The Hague as the genocide case against Israel begins.Patrick Post/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved

Israel declared war on Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, after thousands of militants launched a surprise attack in southern Israel on October 7th, killing some 1,200 people, mostly civilians, and taking about 250 hostages.

The ensuing onslaught on Gaza has killed more than 23,000 people, according to the territory’s health ministry, displacing hundreds of thousands more and leaving many of them at risk of starvation.

Washington and London launch airstrikes against Houthi targets in Yemen

The US and UK have launched airstrikes against more than a dozen sites used by Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. 

British jets based in Cyprus targeted Houthi missile and drone facilities in response to recent threats to shipping in the Red Sea. The operation involved warship and submarine-launched Tomahawk missiles, as well as fighter jets.

Britain's military said its destroyer in the region HMS Diamond conducted a "carefully coordinated strike to reduce the Houthis' capability to violate international law" after they  launched multiple attacks on both merchant ships and military vessels.

The action included four Cyprus-based Typhoon aircraft using Paveway guided bombs to strike Houthi facilities. Among the targets was a site in north-west Yemen associated with launching reconnaissance and attack drones.

Sea Viper missiles are fired in the Red Sea from the British ship HMS Diamond.
Sea Viper missiles are fired in the Red Sea from the British ship HMS Diamond.AP/UK MOD © Crown copyright 2024

The Houthis are Iranian-backed rebels who seized most of northern Yemen and the country's capital of Sanaa in 2014. The following year, a Saudi-led coalition entered the conflict, seeking to restore Yemen's internationally recognized government to power.

The Houthis have sporadically targeted ships in the region, but the attacks have increased since the start of the Oct. 7 Israel-Hamas war. They have used drones and anti-ship missiles to attack vessels and in one case used a helicopter to board and seize an Israeli-owned ship and its crew.

They have threatened to attack any vessel they believe is either going to or coming from Israel. That's now escalated to apparently any vessel, with container ships and oil tankers flagged to countries like Norway and Liberia being attacked or drawing missile fire.

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