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Govt to explain stance on SA case against Israel

The Tánaiste has said that “misinformation has gathered” around Ireland’s position on South Africa’s genocide case against Israel in the International Court of Justice.

Mr Martin said Ireland supports the preliminary judgments sought by South Africa.

Speaking as he arrived at this morning’s Cabinet meeting, Mr Martin said: “South Africa have sought preliminary judgments from the court, we support all of those, we support an end to the bombardment of Gaza, so we want a ceasefire, we want unimpeded access to aid for the people of Gaza, those are the kinds of judgments or the recommendations that are being sought.

“It’s important to make the point that no one has joined [the case] because no one can right now.”

“We will support the court,” Mr Martin said, adding that submissions to the ICJ were “very serious” and were “not done for political reasons.”

The Government has been urged by aid agency Trócaire to support South Africa’s case, which called on it to fulfil its legal obligation to prevent genocide by “urgently” assessing the case of Gaza.

Trócaire said that Ireland’s calls for a ceasefire, though welcome, were no longer enough to prevent “further atrocities”.

Mr Martin said that the ICJ had to make its preliminary findings after which South Africa would make its substantive case.

“I presume they will share that with other countries, and we will examine that and form a basis then for both a decision to join and also if you were to join what the basis for joining would be,” Mr Martin said.

He added that Ireland had made its own “substantive legal submission in respect of the occupation in the West Bank.”

“Unfortunately we can’t share the detail of it because of the rules of the court, but we would hope to be in a position to provide a summary of what we said in that just to give an illustration to people that these are very serious legal submissions one makes, there are not done for political reasons,” Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin said he would explain the Government’s position to the Opposition later today.

A Government motion affirming the call for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza is expected to be tabled in the Dáil.

The unscheduled move comes as the Social Democrats had put down a Private Members’ motion for tomorrow, which seeks Ireland to formally support the South African case.

Health authorities in Hamas-run Gaza have said that 25,490 people have been killed there since 7 October, following the attacks by Hamas on southern Israel in which 1,200 people were killed and 250 taken hostage.

Thousands of Palestinians have been injured and the majority of Gaza’s population have been displaced.

“The Irish Government must assess whether there is a risk that genocide is being committed in Gaza,” said Trócaire chief executive Caoimhe de Barra.

Trócaire said Ireland’s position was no longer enough to prevent ‘further atrocities’

She said that assessing this risk is “a first step” towards fulfilling Ireland’s duty under the 1948 Genocide Convention.

The charity also called on Ireland to release a statement supporting South Africa’s case, specifically the provisional measures requested by South Africa for a suspension of its military operations in Gaza.

It also called on Ireland to “as soon as possible, join the case as an intervener in support of South Africa’s case as it did in the Ukraine v Russia case”.

“Accountability and respect for international humanitarian and human rights law are critical if these repeated cycles of indiscriminate violence and wanton destruction is to end,” Ms de Barra said.

South Africa claims that Israel is conducting genocide against Palestinians in Gaza – a contention Israel vehemently denies.

The case was filed by South Africa on 29 December

Under the Genocide Convention, genocide is defined as acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.

Ms de Barra said: “The Irish Government must act urgently as the Israeli military is killing an average of 250 Palestinians per day in Gaza, a higher daily death rate than any other twenty-first-century armed conflict.

“Israel’s unrelenting military campaign on the Gaza Strip has resulted in more than 25,000 thousand deaths and the displacement of 1.9 million people.

“One in four people in Gaza are facing immediate risk of starvation. These acts are war crimes.

Read more:
Explained: Ireland’s position on the genocide case against Israel

“The desperate situation endured by the inhabitants of the Gaza Strip has led UN experts and Trócaire partners to warn that there is an immediate risk of genocide in the Gaza Strip.

“Ireland has taken a leadership position in recent months in calling for a ceasefire. However, this is no longer enough. Now is the time for measures to be taken to end the violence and suffering and to prevent further atrocities.

“The events of 7 October, perpetrated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, are also war crimes and they must be held accountable. As horrific as these attacks were, they cannot be used as justification for the actions of Israel towards the civilians of Gaza,” she said.

Additional reporting: Paul Cunningham, PA

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