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White House dismisses South Africa’s genocide case against Israel as ‘meritless’

The White House has condemned South Africa’s decision to formally accuse Israel of genocide in charges filed at the International Court of Justice, calling the allegations brought by Pretoria “meritless”.

National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby slammed South Africa’s case as being without merit in response to a question at Wednesday’s White House press briefing.

Mr Kirby also said that the court submission was “counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact whatsoever”.

South Africa brought the charges to the United Nations’s top court at The Hague on 29 December, citing prohibitions against genocide under international law banning killings or other actions “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group”.

The case accuses Israel of acting “in violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention” while conducting the war against Hamas it has been prosecuting since the 7 October 2023 terrorist attacks by the militant group killed more than 1,000 Israelis.

In the intervening months, the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry has said more than 21,000 Gaza residents have been killed, including more than 300 killed in UN-run shelters.

According to the ICJ, Israel is specifically accused of  “acts and omissions” that “are genocidal in character, as they are committed with the requisite specific intent … to destroy Palestinians in Gaza”.

In response, Israel said the South African court action amounts to the country “calling for the destruction of the State of Israel”.

“Israel is committed to international law and acts in accordance with it, and directs its military efforts only against the Hamas terrorist organization and the other terrorist organisations cooperating with Hamas,” the Israeli government said in a statement, adding later that Israel Defence Forces make “every effort to limit harm to the non-involved and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip”.