Bolivia is First LATAM Country to Endorse South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel

Bolivia is now the first country in Latin America to support South Africa's case against Israel before the International Court of Justice

Bolivia Palestine court case

Photo: Unsplash/Milos Hajder

It’s been more than four months since Israel Defence Forces (IDF) invaded Palestine in response to the October 7 attack by the militant group Hamas, which left 1,400 people dead in Southern Israel. Since that day, the death toll in Palestine has risen to over 23,000 people, with 249 being killed by Israeli-led airstrikes, bombs, displacement, and blockades of food and water in the past 24 hours alone, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza. On December 29, the South African government filed a historic case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, accusing the IDF of the intent to commit genocide in Palestine through their military actions. After Turkey and Malaysia joined the lawsuit in solidarity, Bolivia endorsed it yesterday as a signatory, becoming the first Latin American country to do so, according to The New Arab.

In a public statement from Bolivia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials said, “The Government of the Plurinational State of Bolivia values ​​the historic action taken by the Republic of South Africa, which filed a lawsuit…against the State of Israel before the International Court of Justice (ICJ), in relation to violations by of Israel to its Genocide Convention obligations to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Bolivia, committed to peace and justice, signatory of the Genocide Convention, recognizes that South Africa took a historic step in the defense of the Palestinian people, a leadership and effort that should be accompanied by the international community that calls for respect for life.”

Bolivia has had a long history of supporting and showing solidarity with Palestine over the years. As far back as 2009, the country cut ties with Israel for its violent military campaigns in Gaza. That relationship was only repaired four years ago in 2020. But again in November 2023, Bolivia was the first LATAM country to cut ties with Israel “in repudiation and condemnation of the aggressive and disproportionate Israeli military offensive being carried out in the Gaza Strip,” according to Bolivia’s deputy Foreign Minister Freddy Mamani in November. That same month, Bolivia along with South Africa, Bangladesh, Comoros, and Djibouti, presented a request “to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the situation in the State of Palestine,” according to their January 8 statement. This investigation will not only focus on the events that have taken place since Oct. 7, but also take into account Israel’s actions in Gaza and the West Bank from as far back as 2014.

In this new case facing the International Court of Justice, South Africa has presented an 84-page lawsuit detailing Israel’s recent military campaigns and why those actions could be characterized as genocide against the Palestinian people. These actions include forced relocation, deliberate killing by airstrikes and snipers, and blockades on food, water, and healthcare. It is worth noting that they will not be proving that Israel is committing genocide but that they have “intent” to.

After Bolivia joined the case, other countries in the region have taken action to advocate for Palestinian lives, including Colombia and Chile, who both recalled their diplomats from Israel this week. However, many countries have remained steadfast in their support of Israel including the U.S., Argentina, and El Salvador, advocating for the State’s right to defend itself against Hamas. Israel itself has responded in outrage, with government spokesperson Eylon Levy telling South African officials, “history will judge you, and it will judge you without mercy.”

Israel and South Africa will appear in a court hearing scheduled for January 11 and 12 before 25 judges from the US, China, the UK, France, Russia, and several other countries that have yet to be named. Whatever the judges decide, the ruling will not be legally binding and only the Security Council will be able to enforce it.

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