• South Africa files case at ICJ accusing Israel of ‘genocidal acts’ in Gaza
    Israel, which has been accused of meting out collective punishment on Palestinians, has rejected the case at the UN court.

    Palestinians gather at the site of Israeli strikes on houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip, December 25, 2023. [Reuters/Shadi Tabatibi/File]
    Palestinians gather at the site of Israeli attacks on houses, amid the continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip, December 25, 2023 [File: Shadi Tabatibi/Reuters]
    South Africa has filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing it of crimes of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza after nearly three months of relentless Israeli bombardment has killed more than 21,500 people and caused widespread destruction in the besieged enclave.

    In an application to the court on Friday, South Africa described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group”.

    “The acts in question include 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,” the application said.

    People look on as the shrouded bodies of Palestinians killed in nothern Gaza, that were taken and later released by Israel, are burried in a mass grave in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on December 26, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by Mahmud HAMS / AFP)
    People look on as the shrouded bodies of Palestinians killed in nothern Gaza, that were taken and later released by Israel, are burried in a mass grave in Rafah, Dec. 26 [Mahmud Hams/AFP]
    The ICJ, also called the World Court, is a UN civil court that adjudicates disputes between countries. It is distinct from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes individuals for war crimes.

    As members of the UN, both South Africa and Israel are bound by the court.

    South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the occupied West Bank with his country’s past apartheid regime of racial segregation imposed by the white-minority rule that ended in 1994.

    Several human rights organisations have said that Israeli policies towards Palestinians amount to apartheid.


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    Global condemnation

    South Africa said Israel’s conduct, particularly since the war began on October 7, violates the UN’s Genocide Convention, and called for an expedited hearing. The application also requests the court to indicate provisional measures to “protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people” under the Convention.

    “South Africa is gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants,” a statement from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said, adding that the country has “repeatedly stated that it condemns all violence and attacks against all civilians, including Israelis.”

    “South Africa has continuously called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the resumption of talks that will end the violence arising from the continued belligerent occupation of Palestine,” the statement added.

    Israel has rejected global calls for a ceasefire saying the war would not stop until the Hamas group, whose October 7 attack triggered the current phase of the conflict, was destroyed. Some 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas attack in Israel. The Palestinian group has said its attack was against Israel’s 16-year-old blockade of Gaza and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Settlement expansions pose the biggest hurdle in the realisation of a future Palestinian state comprising Gaza, occupied West Banka and East Jerusalem.

    In the latest development in Israel’s war on Gaza, tens of thousands of newly displaced Palestinians in the centre of the Palestinian enclave on Friday were forced to flee further south as Israel expanded its ground and air offensive in the centre of the enclave.

    Israel has faced global condemnation for the mounting toll and destruction and is accused of meting out collective punishment on the Palestinian people.

    ‘A very important step’

    The court application is the latest move by South Africa, a vociferous critic of Israel’s war, to ratchet up pressure after its lawmakers last month voted in favour of closing down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspending all diplomatic relations until a ceasefire was agreed.

    Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the United Nations headquarters in New York, said the move was “clearly a very important step to try to hold some accountability to Israel.”

    “Now that South Africa is pushing this to the ICJ, it will be on [the UN’s] agenda to try to make a ruling on this very important question,” he added.

    On November 16, a group of 36 UN experts called on the international community to “prevent genocide against the Palestinian people”, calling Israel’s actions since October 7 a “genocide in the making”.

    Palestinians inspect the rubble of a building of the Al Nawasrah family destroyed in an Israeli strike in Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
    Palestinians inspect the rubble of a building of the Al Nawasrah family destroyed in an Israeli strike in Maghazi refugee camp, Dec. 25 [Adel Hana/AP Photo]
    “We are deeply disturbed by the failure of governments to heed our call and to achieve an immediate ceasefire. We are also profoundly concerned about the support of certain governments for Israel’s strategy of warfare against the besieged population of Gaza, and the failure of the international system to mobilise to prevent genocide,” the experts said in a statement.

    Israel rejects South Africa’s accusations

    Israel has rejected South Africa’s move as “baseless”, calling it “blood libel.”

    “South Africa’s claim lacks both a factual and a legal basis, and constitutes despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the Court,” Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, Lior Haiat, said in a statement posted on X.

    “Israel has made it clear that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy, and is making every effort to limit harm to the non-involved and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip,” the statement added.

    “It does rally public opinion to the reality of what’s going on in Palestine, not just in Gaza but also in the West Bank,” said Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara.

    According to Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, genocide involves acts committed with the “intent to destroy, either in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.”

    “Where the disagreement lies is whether there is intent or no intent,” Bishara said.

    “The three leading Israeli officials have declared the intent, starting with Israeli President Herzog when he said there are ‘no innocents’ in Gaza, the defence minister who said Israel will impose collective punishment on the people of Gaza because they are ‘human animals’,” Bishara said, adding that prime minister Netanyahu also used a biblical analogy in a statement widely interpreted as a genocidal call.

    The Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs welcomed South Africa’s move, and called on the ICJ to take immediate action to “prevent further harm to the Palestinian people”.

    “Israel’s stated policy, acts and omissions are genocidal in character are committed with the requisite specific intent to the destruction of the Palestinian people under its colonial occupation and apartheid regime in violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention,” a statement by the ministry said.

    “The State of Palestine appeals to the international community and the Contracting Parties to the Convention to uphold their obligations and support the Court in the proceedings.”
    https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/29/south-africa-files-case-at-icj-accusing-israel-of-genocidal-acts-in-gaza
    South Africa files case at ICJ accusing Israel of ‘genocidal acts’ in Gaza Israel, which has been accused of meting out collective punishment on Palestinians, has rejected the case at the UN court. Palestinians gather at the site of Israeli strikes on houses, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, at the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip, December 25, 2023. [Reuters/Shadi Tabatibi/File] Palestinians gather at the site of Israeli attacks on houses, amid the continuing conflict between Israel and the Palestinian group Hamas, at the Maghazi camp in the central Gaza Strip, December 25, 2023 [File: Shadi Tabatibi/Reuters] South Africa has filed a case against Israel at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing it of crimes of genocide against Palestinians in Gaza after nearly three months of relentless Israeli bombardment has killed more than 21,500 people and caused widespread destruction in the besieged enclave. In an application to the court on Friday, South Africa described Israel’s actions in Gaza as “genocidal in character because they are intended to bring about the destruction of a substantial part of the Palestinian national, racial and ethnical group”. “The acts in question include 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,” the application said. People look on as the shrouded bodies of Palestinians killed in nothern Gaza, that were taken and later released by Israel, are burried in a mass grave in Rafah, on the southern Gaza Strip on December 26, 2023, amid ongoing battles between Israel and the militant group Hamas. (Photo by Mahmud HAMS / AFP) People look on as the shrouded bodies of Palestinians killed in nothern Gaza, that were taken and later released by Israel, are burried in a mass grave in Rafah, Dec. 26 [Mahmud Hams/AFP] The ICJ, also called the World Court, is a UN civil court that adjudicates disputes between countries. It is distinct from the International Criminal Court (ICC), which prosecutes individuals for war crimes. As members of the UN, both South Africa and Israel are bound by the court. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has compared Israel’s policies in Gaza and the occupied West Bank with his country’s past apartheid regime of racial segregation imposed by the white-minority rule that ended in 1994. Several human rights organisations have said that Israeli policies towards Palestinians amount to apartheid. Sign up for Al Jazeera Week in the Middle East protected by reCAPTCHA Global condemnation South Africa said Israel’s conduct, particularly since the war began on October 7, violates the UN’s Genocide Convention, and called for an expedited hearing. The application also requests the court to indicate provisional measures to “protect against further, severe and irreparable harm to the rights of the Palestinian people” under the Convention. “South Africa is gravely concerned with the plight of civilians caught in the present Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip due to the indiscriminate use of force and forcible removal of inhabitants,” a statement from South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) said, adding that the country has “repeatedly stated that it condemns all violence and attacks against all civilians, including Israelis.” “South Africa has continuously called for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and the resumption of talks that will end the violence arising from the continued belligerent occupation of Palestine,” the statement added. Israel has rejected global calls for a ceasefire saying the war would not stop until the Hamas group, whose October 7 attack triggered the current phase of the conflict, was destroyed. Some 1,200 people were killed in the Hamas attack in Israel. The Palestinian group has said its attack was against Israel’s 16-year-old blockade of Gaza and expansion of settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. Settlement expansions pose the biggest hurdle in the realisation of a future Palestinian state comprising Gaza, occupied West Banka and East Jerusalem. In the latest development in Israel’s war on Gaza, tens of thousands of newly displaced Palestinians in the centre of the Palestinian enclave on Friday were forced to flee further south as Israel expanded its ground and air offensive in the centre of the enclave. Israel has faced global condemnation for the mounting toll and destruction and is accused of meting out collective punishment on the Palestinian people. ‘A very important step’ The court application is the latest move by South Africa, a vociferous critic of Israel’s war, to ratchet up pressure after its lawmakers last month voted in favour of closing down the Israeli embassy in Pretoria and suspending all diplomatic relations until a ceasefire was agreed. Al Jazeera’s Gabriel Elizondo, reporting from the United Nations headquarters in New York, said the move was “clearly a very important step to try to hold some accountability to Israel.” “Now that South Africa is pushing this to the ICJ, it will be on [the UN’s] agenda to try to make a ruling on this very important question,” he added. On November 16, a group of 36 UN experts called on the international community to “prevent genocide against the Palestinian people”, calling Israel’s actions since October 7 a “genocide in the making”. Palestinians inspect the rubble of a building of the Al Nawasrah family destroyed in an Israeli strike in Maghazi refugee camp, central Gaza Strip, Monday, Dec. 25, 2023. (AP Photo/Adel Hana) Palestinians inspect the rubble of a building of the Al Nawasrah family destroyed in an Israeli strike in Maghazi refugee camp, Dec. 25 [Adel Hana/AP Photo] “We are deeply disturbed by the failure of governments to heed our call and to achieve an immediate ceasefire. We are also profoundly concerned about the support of certain governments for Israel’s strategy of warfare against the besieged population of Gaza, and the failure of the international system to mobilise to prevent genocide,” the experts said in a statement. Israel rejects South Africa’s accusations Israel has rejected South Africa’s move as “baseless”, calling it “blood libel.” “South Africa’s claim lacks both a factual and a legal basis, and constitutes despicable and contemptuous exploitation of the Court,” Israel’s minister of foreign affairs, Lior Haiat, said in a statement posted on X. “Israel has made it clear that the residents of the Gaza Strip are not the enemy, and is making every effort to limit harm to the non-involved and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the Gaza Strip,” the statement added. “It does rally public opinion to the reality of what’s going on in Palestine, not just in Gaza but also in the West Bank,” said Al Jazeera’s senior political analyst Marwan Bishara. According to Article 2 of the Genocide Convention, genocide involves acts committed with the “intent to destroy, either in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group.” “Where the disagreement lies is whether there is intent or no intent,” Bishara said. “The three leading Israeli officials have declared the intent, starting with Israeli President Herzog when he said there are ‘no innocents’ in Gaza, the defence minister who said Israel will impose collective punishment on the people of Gaza because they are ‘human animals’,” Bishara said, adding that prime minister Netanyahu also used a biblical analogy in a statement widely interpreted as a genocidal call. The Palestinian ministry of foreign affairs welcomed South Africa’s move, and called on the ICJ to take immediate action to “prevent further harm to the Palestinian people”. “Israel’s stated policy, acts and omissions are genocidal in character are committed with the requisite specific intent to the destruction of the Palestinian people under its colonial occupation and apartheid regime in violation of its obligations under the Genocide Convention,” a statement by the ministry said. “The State of Palestine appeals to the international community and the Contracting Parties to the Convention to uphold their obligations and support the Court in the proceedings.” https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/29/south-africa-files-case-at-icj-accusing-israel-of-genocidal-acts-in-gaza
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    South Africa files case at ICJ accusing Israel of ‘genocidal acts’ in Gaza
    Israel, which has been accused of meting out collective punishment on Palestinians, rejects the case at the UN court.
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  • Meta censors pro-Palestinian views on a global scale, report claims
    Rights group says Facebook and Instagram routinely engage in ‘six key patterns of undue censorship’ of content supporting Palestine

    Richard Luscombe
    Protesters unfurl the Palestinian flag in front of a sign with the Meta name, symbol and address.
    Meta has engaged in a “systemic and global” censorship of pro-Palestinian content since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war on 7 October, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW).

    In a scathing 51-page report, the organization documented and reviewed more than a thousand reported instances of Meta removing content and suspending or permanently banning accounts on Facebook and Instagram. The company exhibited “six key patterns of undue censorship” of content in support of Palestine and Palestinians, including the taking down of posts, stories and comments; disabling accounts; restricting users’ ability to interact with others’ posts; and “shadow banning”, where the visibility and reach of a person’s material is significantly reduced, according to HRW.

    Examples it cites include content originating from more than 60 countries, mostly in English, and all in “peaceful support of Palestine, expressed in diverse ways”. Even HRW’s own posts seeking examples of online censorship were flagged as spam, the report said.

    “Censorship of content related to Palestine on Instagram and Facebook is systemic and global [and] Meta’s inconsistent enforcement of its own policies led to the erroneous removal of content about Palestine,” the group said in the report, citing “erroneous implementation, overreliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals” as the roots of the problem.

    In a statement to the Guardian, Meta acknowledged it makes errors that are “frustrating” for people, but said that “the implication that we deliberately and systemically suppress a particular voice is false. Claiming that 1,000 examples, out of the enormous amount of content posted about the conflict, are proof of ‘systemic censorship’ may make for a good headline, but that doesn’t make the claim any less misleading.

    Meta said it was the only company in the world to have publicly released human rights due diligence on issues related to Israel and Palestine .

    “This report ignores the realities of enforcing our policies globally during a fast-moving, highly polarized and intense conflict, which has led to an increase in content being reported to us. Our policies are designed to give everyone a voice while at the same time keeping our platforms safe,” the company’s statement reads.

    It is the second time this month that Meta has been challenged over accusations that it routinely silences pro-Palestinian content and voices.

    Last week Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator for Massachusetts, wrote to Meta’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, demanding information following hundreds of reports from Instagram users dating back to October that their content was demoted or removed, and their accounts subjected to shadow banning.

    Alex Hern's weekly dive in to how technology is shaping our lives
    Privacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
    On Tuesday, Meta’s oversight board said the company had been wrong to remove two videos of the conflict in particular from Instagram and Facebook. The board said the videos were valuable for “informing the world about human suffering on both sides”. One showed the aftermath of an airstrike near al-Shifa hospital in Gaza via Instagram, the other a woman being taken hostage during the 7 October attack via Facebook. The clips were reinstated.

    Users of Meta’s products have documented what they say is technological bias in favor of pro-Israel content and against pro-Palestinian posts. Instagram’s translation software replaced “Palestinian” followed by the Arabic phrase “Praise be to Allah” to “Palestinian terrorists” in English. WhatsApp’s AI, when asked to generate images of Palestinian boys and girls, created cartoon children with guns, whereas its images Israeli children did not include firearms.

    Meta (Facebook and Instagram) censors pro-Palestinian views on a global scale, according to Human Rights Watch
    https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/dec/21/meta-facebook-instagram-pro-palestine-censorship-human-rights-watch-report
    Meta censors pro-Palestinian views on a global scale, report claims Rights group says Facebook and Instagram routinely engage in ‘six key patterns of undue censorship’ of content supporting Palestine Richard Luscombe Protesters unfurl the Palestinian flag in front of a sign with the Meta name, symbol and address. Meta has engaged in a “systemic and global” censorship of pro-Palestinian content since the outbreak of the Israel-Gaza war on 7 October, according to a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW). In a scathing 51-page report, the organization documented and reviewed more than a thousand reported instances of Meta removing content and suspending or permanently banning accounts on Facebook and Instagram. The company exhibited “six key patterns of undue censorship” of content in support of Palestine and Palestinians, including the taking down of posts, stories and comments; disabling accounts; restricting users’ ability to interact with others’ posts; and “shadow banning”, where the visibility and reach of a person’s material is significantly reduced, according to HRW. Examples it cites include content originating from more than 60 countries, mostly in English, and all in “peaceful support of Palestine, expressed in diverse ways”. Even HRW’s own posts seeking examples of online censorship were flagged as spam, the report said. “Censorship of content related to Palestine on Instagram and Facebook is systemic and global [and] Meta’s inconsistent enforcement of its own policies led to the erroneous removal of content about Palestine,” the group said in the report, citing “erroneous implementation, overreliance on automated tools to moderate content, and undue government influence over content removals” as the roots of the problem. In a statement to the Guardian, Meta acknowledged it makes errors that are “frustrating” for people, but said that “the implication that we deliberately and systemically suppress a particular voice is false. Claiming that 1,000 examples, out of the enormous amount of content posted about the conflict, are proof of ‘systemic censorship’ may make for a good headline, but that doesn’t make the claim any less misleading. Meta said it was the only company in the world to have publicly released human rights due diligence on issues related to Israel and Palestine . “This report ignores the realities of enforcing our policies globally during a fast-moving, highly polarized and intense conflict, which has led to an increase in content being reported to us. Our policies are designed to give everyone a voice while at the same time keeping our platforms safe,” the company’s statement reads. It is the second time this month that Meta has been challenged over accusations that it routinely silences pro-Palestinian content and voices. Last week Elizabeth Warren, Democratic senator for Massachusetts, wrote to Meta’s co-founder and chief executive officer, Mark Zuckerberg, demanding information following hundreds of reports from Instagram users dating back to October that their content was demoted or removed, and their accounts subjected to shadow banning. Alex Hern's weekly dive in to how technology is shaping our lives Privacy Notice: Newsletters may contain info about charities, online ads, and content funded by outside parties. For more information see our Privacy Policy. We use Google reCaptcha to protect our website and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply. On Tuesday, Meta’s oversight board said the company had been wrong to remove two videos of the conflict in particular from Instagram and Facebook. The board said the videos were valuable for “informing the world about human suffering on both sides”. One showed the aftermath of an airstrike near al-Shifa hospital in Gaza via Instagram, the other a woman being taken hostage during the 7 October attack via Facebook. The clips were reinstated. Users of Meta’s products have documented what they say is technological bias in favor of pro-Israel content and against pro-Palestinian posts. Instagram’s translation software replaced “Palestinian” followed by the Arabic phrase “Praise be to Allah” to “Palestinian terrorists” in English. WhatsApp’s AI, when asked to generate images of Palestinian boys and girls, created cartoon children with guns, whereas its images Israeli children did not include firearms. Meta (Facebook and Instagram) censors pro-Palestinian views on a global scale, according to Human Rights Watch https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2023/dec/21/meta-facebook-instagram-pro-palestine-censorship-human-rights-watch-report
    WWW.THEGUARDIAN.COM
    Meta censors pro-Palestinian views on a global scale, report claims
    Rights group says Facebook and Instagram routinely engage in ‘six key patterns of undue censorship’ of content supporting Palestine
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