JERUSALEM — South Africa’s use of the top United Nations court to charge Israel with genocide sparked an angry response Friday from the Jewish state’s U.N. ambassador, who said the legal process aided Hamas, “the Nazis of our time.”
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the U.N., issued a response to the hearing at the U.N.’s International Court of Justice in the Netherlands that will rule on Israel’s military campaign against the jihadi movement Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
“The proceedings in The Hague demonstrate how the U.N. and its institutions have become weapons in service of terrorist organizations,” Erdan said. “The use of the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide against the Jewish state and in service of the Nazis of our time, Yahya Sinwar and Ismail Haniyeh, proves that there is no moral low that the U.N. has not descended to.”
Sinwar and Haniyeh are two of the Hamas Palestinian leaders who allegedly mobilized thousands of Hamas terrorists to invade Israel Oct. 7, resulting in the murder of 1,200 people, including over 30 Americans. Hamas kidnapped over 240 people.
“The U.N. is the one who should sit on trial in The Hague for turning a blind eye, and thereby serving as an accomplice, to the digging of terror tunnels in Gaza, in the use of international aid for the production of missiles and rockets and in the education of hatred and murder,” Erdan said.
“If there is even one iota of reason and morality left in the U.N., then the despicable prosecution by the terror-supporting South Africa should be thrown into the dustbin of history in the coming days.”
South Africa, which has shown great sympathy and support for Hamas over the years, filed the legal case at the International Court of Justice. Israel got a boost on Friday with a statement from the German government against South Africa.
South Africa has alleged Israel’s military campaign in Gaza amounts to genocide. The convention defines genocide as acts such as killings “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”
On Friday, German government spokesman Steffen Hebestreit said Israel was “defending itself” after the “inhuman” attacks by Hamas.
“The German government decisively and expressly rejects the accusation of genocide brought against Israel before the International Court of Justice. The accusation has no basis in fact,” said Hebestreit.
“In light of German history and the crimes against humanity of the Shoah, the German government is particularly committed to the [U.N.] Genocide Convention.”
The word Shoah is used by Israel to describe Germany’s destruction of European Jewry during World War II, resulting in the mass murder of 6 million Jews. The U.N. Genocide Convention was signed in 1948, after the Holocaust.
Hebestreit stressed that the Convention is a “central instrument” under international law to stop a new Holocaust.
“We stand firmly against a political instrumentalization” of the Convention, he noted.
Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., took South Africa to task Wednesday.
“And now South Africa … bringing that kind of trial,” Fetterman said. “Maybe South Africa ought to sit this one out when they’re talking about criticizing the behavior of another nation. Sit out.”
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) party hosted three Hamas officials in South Africa in December. A senior Hamas representative based in Iran was also present.
The U.S. has classified Hamas a foreign terrorist organization. Hamas’ sponsor, the Islamic Republic of Iran, has been designated by the U.S. State Department as the world’s worst international state sponsor of terrorism.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.