The accusation that Israel is violating international law in the Gaza conflict was the issue at the first in a series of talks moderated by former Constitutional Court Justice Zak Yacoob at Wits Caltsty auditorium on West campus.
The debate featured well known law professors including Prof Alan Dershowitz, speaking for Israel’s actions in Gaza, and Prof John Dugard of the University of Leiden in the Netherlands speaking against Israel’s role in the recent conflict.
Dershowitz said Israel was defending itself in the conflict and should not be reprimanded for this. He argued the Gaza conflict was similar to a bank robbery in which police officers might hurt innocent civilians being used as shields by criminals.
He added that Israel should not be criticized and this would embolden Hamas, its opponent in the Gaza strip, to continue attacking Israel.
“Israel should not be condemned. If it is condemned it would encourage Hamas to do what it does,” Dershowitz said.
Dugard did not agree to the defence claim argued by Dershowitz.
“Israel’s defence claim is non-existent…It is a punishment to kill those occupying Gaza,” he said.
Dugard argued that only three Israeli civilians have been killed but over 2 000 Palestinians have been killed and 10 000 injured. He called Gaza a “killing field”. He added that Israel was guilty of crimes against humanity because it had intentionally killed a large number of innocent Palestinian civilians who were in hospitals, mosques, schools and homes and should be brought before the International Criminal Court (ICC) or a tribunal.
Dugard said accountability and responsibility was required from both Israel and Hamas.
“Accountability is of great importance in this battle,” Dugard said.
Dershowitz rejected holding Israel accountable in the ICC. He attacked the court’s credibility going so far as to call it an “apartheid court”.
“The international court is certainly not international and it is not a court of justice. It is essentially an apartheid court,” Dershowitz said.