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Ireland to intervene in South Africa genocide case against Israel

FILE PHOTO: Irish Tanaiste, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Defence Micheal Martin at the 78th United Nations General Assembly

DUBLIN (Reuters) -Ireland said on Wednesday it would intervene in South Africa's genocide case against Israel, in the strongest signal to date of Dublin's concern about Israeli operations in Gaza since Oct. 7.

Announcing the move, Foreign Minister Micheal Martin said that while it was for the World Court to decide whether genocide is being committed, he wanted to be clear that Hamas' Oct. 7 attack and what is happening in Gaza now "represents the blatant violation of international humanitarian law on a mass scale."

"The taking of hostages. The purposeful withholding of humanitarian assistance to civilians. The targeting of civilians and of civilian infrastructure. The indiscriminate use of explosive weapons in populated areas. The use of civilian objects for military purposes. The collective punishment of an entire population," Martin said in a statement.

"The list goes on. It has to stop. The view of the international community is clear. Enough is enough."

In January the International Court of Justice (ICJ), also known as the World Court, ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the Genocide Convention and to ensure its troops commit no genocidal acts against Palestinians, after South Africa accused Israel of state-led genocide in Gaza.

Israel and its Western allies described the allegation as baseless. A final ruling in South Africa's ICJ case in The Hague could take years.

Martin did not say what form the intervention would take or outline any argument Ireland plans to advance, but added that the step was decided following legal and policy analysis and consultation with several partners including South Africa.

Martin's department said such third party interventions do not take a specific side in the dispute, but that the intervention would be an opportunity for Ireland to put forward its interpretation of one or more of the provisions of the Genocide Convention at issue in the case.

The Hamas-led attack killed 1,200 people and resulted in more than 250 being taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies. Since then, Israel’s assault on Gaza has killed more than 32,000 people, according to Hamas-run health authorities in Gaza.

Long a champion of Palestinian rights, Ireland last week joined Spain, Malta and Slovenia in taking the first steps toward recognising statehood declared by the Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.

Israel told the countries that their plan constituted a "prize for terrorism" that would reduce the chances of a negotiated resolution to the conflict between the neighbours.

(Reporting by Padraic Halpin, Editing by William Maclean)