US firmly denounces Israel genocide allegations as ICJ trial underway

The US continues to denounce allegations of Israel committing genocide, State Department Principal Deputy Spokesperson Vedant Patel said Thursday. 

Patel refrained from addressing specific points of South Africa’s case against Israel that’s currently being argued in The Hague at the International Court of Justice. 

“Genocide is one of the most heinous acts any entity or individual can commit and such an allegation should only be made with the greatest of care,” Patel said. 

At the White House on Thursday, National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby reiterated the US’ stance that there’s no basis for accusations of genocide against Israel.

Kirby did not engage with hypothetical questioning on actions the US would take if the ICJ rules against Israel. 

The International Court of Justice on the day of the trial to hear a request for emergency measures by South Africa, who asked the court to order Israel to stop its military actions in Gaza and to desist from what South Africa says are genocidal acts committed against Palestinians during the (credit: REUTERS/THILO SCHMUELGEN)

“I’m just not going to hypothesize or get ahead of the process here,” Kirby said. “We’ve made clear our view on this particular case. And we’ve made clear our view on supporting Israel as they defend themselves.”

Special burdens

At the State Department, Patel said he wouldn’t speak to the legal characterizations of implications of intentional killing.

“That being said, we have been clear to Israel that they not only must comply with international humanitarian law in its operations against Hamas, but it needs to take all feasible steps to prevent civilian harm,” Patel said. 

“Also, we have been clear with regional partners who have relationships or influence with Hamas that any step that they would be interested in taking to cease hostilities to release hostages, to take steps away from their self-claimed goal of repeating October 7 again, and again, and again, and again, would be welcome as well,” Patel said. 

When asked if the US is concerned about possible involvement in war crimes for Israel, Patel said the US has made it clear to the Israelis that international human rights must be respected and followed. 

Patel said it’s not too soon for the US to say there are no grounds for potential genocide. 

“Every conflict is different, and every circumstance is different. And these kinds of determinations need to be made,” Patel said. “With a close look at the law and the facts and these allegations that Israel is committing genocide are unfounded.”

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