Whatever its outcome, the accusation of genocide leveled this week against Israel at the world’s top court is an epochal intervention imbued with profound symbolism for both Israelis and Palestinians.
In the granular sense, the case at the International Court of Justice is a chance to assess three months of devastation in Gaza. Israel stands accused of committing genocide against the Palestinian people in a military campaign that has killed roughly 1 in 100 Gazans and displaced nearly two million others.
But the case in The Hague has also taken on a broader resonance: Among both Israelis and Palestinians, it is perceived as a proxy for a far older battle over the legitimacy of their respective national causes.
To many Israelis, the case is the culmination of a decades-long effort to turn Israel into a pariah by holding the country — which was itself founded in the aftermath of a genocide of Jews — to a far higher level of scrutiny than other nations.
They see their invasion of the Gaza Strip as a war of defense against an enemy, Hamas, that inflicted its own genocidal attack on Israel on Oct. 7, prompting the Israeli military to pursue Hamas into Gaza just as any other army would have done.
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