South Africa has petitioned the International Court of Justice to consider a lawsuit charging Israel of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza.
The submission also requests that the court order Israel to cease military actions in the area.
As the case is not a criminal trial, the ICJ will merely issue an opinion on the genocide accusation, albeit it will be closely monitored.
Israel has categorically denied the accusation, calling it “baseless.”
South Africa will deliver its case on Thursday, while Israel will present its defense on Friday.
According to South Africa’s statement, Israel’s activities “are intended to result in the destruction of a substantial portion of the Palestinian national, racial, and ethnic group.”
According to the report, Israel is “killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious bodily and mental harm, and inflicting on them conditions of life calculated to bring about their physical destruction” .
Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the accusations “atrocious and preposterous”.
The UN court based in the Hague in the Netherlands, could rule quickly on South Africa’s request for Israel to suspend its military campaign – but a final ruling on whether Israel is committing genocide could take years.
ICJ rulings are theoretically legally binding on parties to the ICJ which include Israel and South Africa but are not enforceable.
The ruling African National Congress has a long history of supporting the Palestinian cause, and South Africa has been a vocal opponent of Israel’s military action in Gaza.
It draws comparisons to its fight against apartheid, the racist regime of segregation and discrimination against the black majority in South Africa up until the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, which was implemented by the white-minority government.
Since the conflict started on October 7, more than 23,350 Palestinians have died in Gaza, according to the Health Ministry.