Brazil, Colombia support S. African ICJ case against Israel, Paraguay backs Tel Aviv

South Africa’s case at the International Court of Justice accuses Israel of committing genocide in Gaza. Around 100 people are still being held hostage in the strip

On the eve of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) hearings regarding South Africa’s case demanding that Israel cease its military actions against the civilian population in Gaza, the governments of Brazil and Colombia have backed South Africa’s position. Paraguay, meanwhile, sided decisively with Israel. 

In the case, South Africa accuses Israel of genocide. Israel will present its defense on Friday, and has called the allegations “baseless.” Around 100 people are still being held hostage in Gaza.

Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva endorsed South Africa’s case, urging the ICJ to “immediately order Israel to cease all acts and measures that may constitute genocide or related crimes in the Gaza Strip.” The Brazilian leader expressed his support in a meeting with the Palestinian ambassador in Brasilia, Ibrahim Alzeben.

An official statement from the Brazilian government “recalled Brazil’s immediate condemnation of the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7, 2023,” but emphasized that “such acts do not justify the indiscriminate, recurrent, and disproportionate use of force by Israel against civilians.” 

It continued by observing that more than 23,000 people have died in Gaza since October 7, of whom 70% were women and children; 7,000 people are missing, and over 80% of the population has been forcibly displaced. Critical infrastructure, including health, water, energy, and food supply systems, is collapsed, which Brazil says constitutes collective punishment.

The unprecedented attack by Hamas on October 7 killed nearly 1,200 people in Israel, mostly civilians. Around 240 people were taken hostage, including 20 Argentines. Around 100 of them are still being held by Hamas. In response, Israel pledged to “annihilate” Hamas, in power in the Gaza Strip, and continues to bombard this Palestinian enclave. 

The document further noted that “in light of blatant violations of international humanitarian law,” President Lula da Silva expressed support for South Africa’s initiative to request the ICJ to immediately order Israel to cease all acts that could constitute genocide or related crimes. 

The Brazilian government reiterated its advocacy for a two-state solution, with a financially viable Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders, encompassing the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The government of Colombia likewise backed South Africa’s filing in a press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The statement echoed President Gustavo Petro’s stance that the actions and measures taken by the Israeli government clearly constitute acts of genocide. 

The Colombian statement called South Africa’s lawsuit a “brave step in the right direction.” 

Over 23,350 people, mainly women and minors, have died, the Gaza Ministry of Health reported on Wednesday. 

Paraguay backs Israel

Conversely, Paraguay rejected the accusations against Israel at the ICJ and praised the actions of security forces “in the context of legitimate defense against terrorist attacks.” The Paraguayan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the government “rejects the complaints filed against Israel in the International Court of Justice in the context of legitimate defense against terrorist attacks.” 

The message followed a meeting in Asunción between members of the National Defense Council (Codena) and Israel Defense Forces spokesperson Roni Kaplan. “We discussed the current situation in the context of the conflict they face and the strengthening of bilateral cooperation in security,” President Santiago Peña posted on X.

Paraguay has been a staunch ally of Israel since Santiago Peña took office in August of last year and even announced its decision to relocate the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Paraguay also voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip.

-Télam. Cover image: Mourners react next to the bodies of Palestinians killed in an Israeli strike, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, in Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip, January 10, 2024. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem


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