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Top UN court to hear genocide case against Israel next week

World
 The building of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. [Reuters]

The United Nations's top court will hear submissions next week from South Africa and Israel after Pretoria opened a case for what it called Israel's genocidal acts in Gaza.

South Africa wants the International Court of Justice to urgently order Israel to suspend its military operations in Gaza, in a case that Israel rejected "with disgust."

The United States on Wednesday criticized South Africa for bringing a genocide case, rejecting accusations against Israel over its war in Gaza.

"This submission is meritless, counterproductive, and completely without any basis whatsoever," White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said during a briefing.

U.S. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said separately that from a U.S. assessment, "We have not at this point seen acts that constitute genocide."

"Genocide is, of course, a heinous atrocity," Miller told reporters. "Those are allegations that should not be made lightly."

The International Court of Justice "will hold public hearings at the Peace Palace in The Hague ... in proceedings instituted by South Africa against Israel," on January 11 and January 12, the court said in a statement.

The South African application, filed last Friday, related to alleged violations by Israel of its obligations under the Genocide Convention, saying that "Israel has engaged in, is engaging in and risks further engaging in genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in Gaza."

Israel rejected the charge, with Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Lior Haiat writing on X, "Israel rejects with disgust the blood libel spread by South Africa and its application" to the ICJ. "Blood libel" is a reference to ancient antisemitic conspiracies.

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