Israel claimed on Friday that South Africa put forward a “profoundly distorted” picture on Gaza before the International Court of Justice, the BBC reported.

South Africa has filed a genocide case against Israel for its military action in Gaza that started in October 2023. The International Court of Justice, the legal body of the United Nations, settles disputes between states and gives advisory opinions on international legal issues.

Israeli legal advisor Tal Becker on Friday told a packed auditorium at the Palace of Peace in The Hague that South Africa’s case “hinges on a deliberately curated, decontextualized and manipulative description of the reality of current hostilities”, the Associated Press reported.

He said: “We live at a time when words are cheap in an age of social media and identity politics. The temptation to reach for the most outrageous term to vilify and demonize has become, for many, irresistible.”

Backer said that Israel’s war on Gaza was a legitimate defence of its citizens and alleged that it was in fact Palestinian militant group Hamas that was guilty of genocide.

On Thursday, South Africa told the court that Israel has violated the 1948 genocide convention created in the aftermath of the Holocaust – the mass slaughter of European Jews during World War II. The convention states that genocide is a crime under international law and mandates that all countries will prevent its recurrence.

Over 23,000 Palestinians have been killed in Gaza since October 7, amid Israel’s war on the besieged region. The war was triggered after the attack on southern Israel by Hamas. The militant group’s attack on Israel had killed 1,200 people and the group had taken more than 200 hostages.

Israel often boycotts international tribunals and investigations by United Nations agencies, claiming that they are biased. However, this time, it decided to send a high-level legal team to the top United Nations court to defend its actions in Gaza.