Israel says South Africa genocide case at UN court 'totally divorced' from facts

Israel lashed out Friday at South Africa's case before the UN's top court, describing it as "totally divorced" from reality, as Pretoria urges judges to order a ceasefire in Gaza.

A top lawyer for Israel painted the South Africa case as a "mockery" of the UN Genocide Convention it is accused of breaching.

"South Africa presents the court for the fourth time with a picture that is completely divorced from the facts and circumstances," Gilad Noam told the International Court of Justice (ICJ).

Pretoria has petitioned the ICJ to order a stop to the Israeli assault on the Gaza city of Rafah, which Israel says is key to eliminating Hamas militants.

Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday the ground assault on Rafah was a "critical" part of the army's mission to destroy Hamas and prevent a repetition of the October 7 attack.

"The battle in Rafah is critical... It's not just the rest of their battalions, it's also like an oxygen line for them for escape and resupply," he said.

Netanyahu ordered the Rafah offensive in defiance of US warnings that more than a million civilians sheltering there could be caught in the crossfire.

Friday in the Hague, Noam told the court Israel was "acutely aware" of civilians concentrated in Rafah.

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