Richard Spoor Profile picture
Jan 12 9 tweets 2 min read Read on X
Well, that was a very impressive and dignified response by Israel. The confidence we had coming out of yesterday’s hearing has pretty much evaporated. It does appear that SA’s case was light on hard evidence.
The evidence of genocidal intent in the form of statements by leaders is much less impactful when placed in context and countered with other statements, orders and directives requiring the Israeli military to respect the rules of war. We missed Israel’s humanitarian initiatives.
Our reliance on evidence of massive civilian casualties and damage to property and infrastructure, to prove intent, is not that telling in circumstances where we are unable to show that the harm and damage would have been any less, if Israel had complied with the rule of law.
Our claim for provisional measures and in particular for an order halting Israel’s offensive, now appears to be a serious overreach. Israel cannot be ordered to stop its legitimate war against Hamas, especially in circumstances where Hamas will continue its attacks on Israel.
We were embarrassed by our government’s failure to engage properly with Israel before filing the dispute and by our hosting Hamas’ leadership in SA three weeks after that organisation’s indisputably genocidal attack on Israel on 7 October. We need to choose our friends better.
If there is something positive that comes out of this it is that the standing and authority of the ICJ and of international law has been upheld and enhanced. Both parties showed that they are respectful of the Court and the conventions that it enforces.
We can expect a ruling within days or weeks. Hopefully there will be a high degree of unanimity among the judges, which would further enhance the ICJ’s credibility.
Even if SA is unsuccessful in securing provisional relief, we will get another shot at the next stage of the hearing to prove acts of genocide based on whatever further evidence we can muster before then.
SA showed courage in bringing these proceedings, which has gone a long way to restore its moral standing. On its part Israel has publicly reaffirmed its commitment to the international law and its conventions, and will be on its best behaviour. All this is for the good.

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More from @Richard_Spoor

Jan 12
Let’s clear up some of the common misunderstandings about what South Africa’s complaint is about.
1. Israel’s contention that Hamas is an antisemitic terrorist organisation with a genocidal intent, is not in issue.
2. The scale and nature of the Oct 7 atrocity is not in issue.
3. Israel’s right to self defense and its right to wage war against Hamas in order to destroy for good, its capacity to attack Israel and its people and to free the hostages is not in issue.
What is in issue is the manner in and intention with which Israel is conducting that war.
South Africa contends that based on the utterances of senior Israeli political and military leaders and the conduct of its military forces in Gaza that it is clear that Israel’s strategy to destroy Hamas is to target the civilian population of Gaza and to punish them.
Read 8 tweets
Jan 12, 2023
Consulted with a client today. His experience is representative of how SOE’s work.
Telkom is rolling out fibre in some townships in Gauteng. It appointed a main contractor but because the contractor lacks local influence, it insists on the use of a local subcontractor.
The main contractor does the buying and pays the subcontractor. The main contractor gets 30% of the contract value, the subcontractor gets 70%. The work goes well till other local political players decide to muscle in. They start destroying the installed fibre infrastructure.
The Telkom contract manager tells the main contractor he must split the subcontracting work between all those demanding a share of the subcontracting work. My client, the subcontractor refuses to agree to the splitting of his sub contract.
Read 7 tweets
Aug 25, 2022
Got a letter today from SASOL’s attorneys, the estimable firm of Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr. My client is a farmer with a farm downstream from one of SASOL’s waste water dams, known as Dam F. Dam F was built in the 80’s to accommodate toxic waste water from the coal mines.
Dam F was designed to leak waste water. The clay was carefully removed to build the dam wall exposing the weathered dolorite, that constitutes the floor of the dam, which leaks like a seive. It’s a cunning way to leach polluted waste water into the ground water.
This is much cheaper than treating the water or evaporating it. From Dam F the waste water flows into the ground water and eventually surfaces in the dams in the stream flowing through my clients property. His animals drink the waste water and get sick and die.
Read 9 tweets
Jul 20, 2022
My client is a natural scientist. A specialist in fresh water invertebrates, he wrote a book on the subject. He was called in to assess the damage done to the aquatic ecology of the Olifants River by a toxic mine spill. He sampled the millions of dead fish in the river and dams.
He scooped up the dead fish with a net in order to identify the types of fish that were poisoned and then kept some dead fish as samples to be sent to Onderstepoort for pathology, to establish just what kind of poison killed them.
Now the Mpumalanga Parks and Tourism Agency #MTPA has charged him with the crime of fishing without a licence. He is due to appear in the Middelburg Magistrates Court shortly.
Read 4 tweets
Jul 20, 2022
Twenty one young people, many under eighteen, die in a packed drinking spot under mysterious circumstances. It’s a tragedy, and the grieving parents and th public want answers. What happened? How did the die?
A quick guide on how to botch the investigation.
1. Express shock and anger.
2. Promise that no stone will be left unturned to find to ensure that those responsible will be held to account.
3. Call for a national debate debate on the legal drinking age and town planning laws.
4. Stoke the fires of xenophobia, by suggesting that the owners are foreigners.
5. Announce that a stampede and a crush have been excluded as a possible cause of the deaths because the bodies show no sign of external injury.
Read 8 tweets
Mar 30, 2022
Thought to make a thread of the work I do each day. So here goes. Today I settled papers to release a young man from curatorship following a serious head injury ten years age. He is better now. Then a consult with a trout producer grappling with new and oppressive gov regs.
Later a consult with a young man whose mother died recently. Parents married in Zambia, lived in Mozambique, the father lives in the Far East, mother in SA. Fixed property here and in Moz, a complex estate. Finally continued drafting a constitution for a Water Users Association.
Today (Thursday) I began with a tricky arbitration. The lawyers on the other side are cunning AF. I had drafted a settlement agreement some time back. They wrote back saying it was crap and sent me back a new draft filled with clever words and clauses. Full of hidden traps.
Read 48 tweets

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