Spain Applies for Intervention in South Africa’s Genocide Case Against Israel

Sébastien Gray
Sébastien Gray
Sébastien is a published journalist and historicist with over six years of experience in freelance journalism and research. His primary expertise is in African conflict and politics, with additional specialization in Israeli/Palestinian and Armenia/Azerbaijan conflicts. Sébastien serves as the deputy desk chief for Africa.

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Spain has officially filed an application to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to intervene in South Africa’s case against Israel, which accuses them of committing genocide in Gaza, only three weeks after having declared their intention to do so.

The Latest Step

Spain’s application is the latest of several steps the country has taken as attempted acts of intervention in the present Israel-Gaza War.

Most prominent was their recognition of Palestinian statehood. This recognition came officially on May 28th, after having been announced a week prior, in a joint statement with Ireland and Norway.

“Today, Ireland, Norway, and Spain are announcing that we recognize the State of Palestine, each of us will undertake whatever national steps are necessary to give effect to that decision. I am confident that further countries will join us in taking this important step in the coming weeks.” -Irish Taoiseach Simon Harris on May 22nd, 2024

A photo of Ireland’s ‘Taoiseach’ (Prime Minister), Simon Harris (Photo from PA).

The three nations’ recognition of Palestinian statehood followed through on a promise that they, alongside Slovenia and Malta, had made in March to recognize Palestine.

The recognition was subject to significant criticism from Israel. Israel recalled ambassadors from each nation, with Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz claiming the decision only served to “send a message to the Palestinians and the world: Terrorism pays,” additionally accusing them of having “chosen to reward Hamas and Iran by recognizing a Palestinian state.”

Slovenia followed suit on June 4th, issuing an official recognition of Palestine. The move was again subject to criticism from Israel. Minister Katz echoed his previous statements, accusing Slovenia of choosing to support terrorism through the recognition. Notably, Israel did not recall their ambassador from Slovenia as they did for Ireland, Spain, and Norway, but they did summon Slovenia’s ambassador for a “reprimand conversation.”

Malta has yet to fulfill their promise, though the Maltese government has stated they will do so “when the circumstances are right.”


On June 6th, Spain announced its intention to intervene in South Africa’s case. Three weeks later, on June 28th, Spain officially filed the application.

Spain’s intervention is particularly notable for several reasons. Spain is the first nation within both the EU and NATO, two blocs historically aligned towards Israel (particularly as Israel is a major non-NATO ally), to file for intervention. Additionally, it is the first European nation to formally file for intervention, although others have stated their intention to do so.

In their application, Spain states that the “blockade of humanitarian assistance” to Gaza by Israel, mass infrastructure damage—in particular of essential infrastructure—cutting off supplies such as electricity and water, and mass displacement may be actions that are in violation of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, or the “Genocide Convention.”

Spain’s full declaration of intervention may be read here.

Details of the Case

South Africa’s case against Israel, first filed in December, accuses Israel of carrying out genocide in the Gaza Strip. The court has yet to make any decision that affirms or denies South Africa’s assertion, only ruling that there is a “plausibility” of genocide, a necessity for the continuation of the case.

Thus far the court has ruled on a series of different provisional measures requested by South Africa against Israel.

Most recently, the court ordered the expansion of aid into Gaza, the expansion of access to humanitarian organizations, investigators, journalists, and regional bodies, as well as a halt of Israel’s military action against the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Israel has been accused of not adhering to these measures, in particular for the order of a halt to operations in Rafah, where the IDF continues to be active.

Prior to Spain, several countries had either stated their intention to intervene in the case or filled out official applications like Spain now has.

Nicaragua, Colombia, Libya, Mexico, and the State of Palestine have all filed official applications to intervene in the case. Thus far, every nation which has filed an application has done so in support of South Africa. The ICJ has yet to accept any application from those who’ve applied to intervene.

The case, its history, proceedings, and the arguments of both sides may be viewed here.