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Spain joins South Africa's UN case on Israel genocide accusations

FILE - Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares addresses a media conference prior to talks on the Middle East in Brussels

FILE - Spain's Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Albares addresses a media conference prior to talks on the Middle East in Brussels

Spain announced Thursday it would apply to the United Nations’ top court to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of genocide in the Gaza Strip.

“Our sole goal is to put an end to the war and to advance on the road of applying the two-state solution,” Spanish Foreign minister Jose Manuel Albares said.

Spain is the first European country to make the request, joining 12 other countries. South Africa introduced the case to the International Court of Justice last year, alleging that Israel’s Gaza offensive violated the 1948 UN Genocide Convention. Israel retaliated against Hamas after the terror group attacked the country on October 7, killing about 1,200 people, according to Israeli estimates.

“At the moment, we see a large-scale war that does not distinguish between civilian and military targets in Gaza, as well as the enormous risk of regional spillover,” Albares said, adding that the court must decide if Israel’s action in Gaza amounts to genocide.

Once admitted to the case, Spain would be able to make written submissions and speak at public hearings. Spain, as well as Ireland and Norway, recently recognized the state of Palestine, joining over 140 countries. Their decision brought an angry reaction from Israel, which has denied committing genocide.

The ICJ, developed after World War II to settle disputes between states, ordered Israel last Friday to allow UN-mandated investigators to look into the genocide accusations. On January 26, the ICJ also ordered Israel to take all measures to prevent genocide during its military operation in Gaza.

South Africa has told the ICJ that the humanitarian crisis in Gaza requires the court to issue new emergency measures. On May 24, the court ordered Israel to immediately halt the offensive in Rafah and keep the border crossing open for aid. It also called for the immediate release of the hostages taken by Hamas on October 7.

There already have been preliminary hearings on the genocide case against Israel. The court may take years to make a final decision.

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