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Why did Chile join South Africa's genocide case against Israel at ICJ?

June 7, 2024 at 4:20 pm

A demonstrator holds a sign reading “It is not war, it is genocide” during a march in Santiago on March 17, 2024 in support of Palestinians amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant Hamas group in the Gaza Strip. (Photo by RODRIGO ARANGUA / AFP) (Photo by RODRIGO ARANGUA/AFP via Getty Images)

Speaking to the National Congress, Chilean President, Gabriel Boric, said that his country will join South Africa in its case at the International Court of Justice against Israel, based on the Convention on the Crime of Genocide.

“Chile will become a party to and support the case that South Africa presented against Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague,” Boric said when presenting his third presidential Public speech in the annual report of his government actions.

President Gabriel Boric made his decision public, after asking his teams from the Foreign Ministry of our country to prepare a brief with their arguments. “I have instructed the Foreign Ministry team to prepare a brief with our arguments,” the Chilean President added in front of hundreds of attendees at the headquarters of the Chilean Congress.

According to President Boric, this action is in addition to others that were carried out before, such as sending the humanitarian supplies to the Palestinian Territories, the call for consultations of the Chilean Ambassador to Israel and filing a complaint at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague against Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

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“These acts require a strong response from the international community. It is collective punishment of the civilian population in Gaza, with forced mass displacement and the extermination of ten thousands civilians, most of them children and women. That’s why I have decided that Chile will be a party to and support the case that South Africa filed against Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague within the framework of the UN Genocide Convention,” Boric added.

The Palestinian community in Chile welcomes Chile’s decision to join Israel’s complaint to the ICJ and appreciated the endless support from President Boric.  “We thank Chile for this announcement and for maintaining, over the years, a position in accordance with international legality and in support of the legitimate claims of Palestine,” they said in a statement. “In addition, we condemn the attacks by the Israeli Occupation against the people of Gaza Strip.  This aggression constitutes a flagrant violation of the order of the International Court of Justice that had already warned Israel at the beginning of the month. However, they ignored these warnings and proceeded with their military actions.”

“We urge all international organisations to research and talk about Israeli crimes in Gaza, so that those responsible are held accountable. ”

Meanwhile, Chile’s Jewish Community of some 20,000 people accused President Boric of “using the conflict in Gaza for his personal political purposes and polarising the South American country”.

“This active intervention in an external conflict, using fiscal resources, is clearly perceived as an action that prioritises its own personal interests over those of the nation, showing a clear bias on the issue,” the president of the Jewish community in Chile said on the social network X.

According to the Chilean lawyer and former ambassador, Nelson Hadad, the decision of Chile´s President to join the South African lawsuit against Israel is a necessary step from a country  which respects international law, and it is a traditional reaction from a President who supports the Palestinian cause and its people.

“We value President Boric’s decision to adhere to South Africa’s claim for the crime of Genocide against the State of Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague, in accordance with the international treaty on the prevention and punishment of the crime of genocide of 1949,” he said.

“Chile follows the crimes of forced displacement, indiscriminate bombing of cities, hospitals, refugee camps, schools, mosques and churches have been committed, without any distinction. The defence of international humanitarian laws is an item from the foreign policy of Chile,” he added.

Hadad sees that this step may open the way to other Latin American regions to join South Africa as Chile did, “all human beings are in danger, that’s why they must all condemn Israel´s crimes, denounce the war criminals, ensure that they are held accountable and face punishment according to the penalties of the Rome Statute.””Furthermore, President’s decision certainly took in consideration the popular demonstrations in Chile as we have witnessed how Chile´s workers, unions, university students, gathered in their schools, their universities and in the street to support Palestine and Gaza.”Hadad served as Chile’s Ambassador to Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. He is a Professor of International Relations at the Central University of Chile (UCEN). As the lead lawyer of the group who filed the complaint against Benjamin Netanyahu at the ICC, he is convinced that what we are witnessing in Gaza is the “extermination” of a people.“We presented the papers to the ICC Prosecutor in December, with a 46-page briefing in which we substantiated the criminal offences that we attribute to him,” explained Hadad. “We have great expectations the people who commit genocide crimes against humanity cannot remain unpunished, they must be held accountable and must also repair all damages and the suffering caused the victims.”

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