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Who is the Holocaust survivor among ICJ judges in South Africa vs Israel case?

todayJanuary 27, 2024 1

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Who is the Holocaust survivor among ICJ judges in South Africa vs Israel case?

A Holocaust survivor was on the panel of judges in the International Court of Justice – voting in favour of two of the measures in the case South Africa brought against Israel.

Aharon Barak, 87, is an ad-hoc judge – meaning he was brought in specifically for the case.

Of the six orders brought by South Africa in the court in the Hague, the Israeli judge voted in favour of two – an order for humanitarian aid and another for the prevention of inflammatory speech.

Mr Barak said he supported those orders in the hope they would “help to decrease tensions and discourage damaging rhetoric” while easing the “consequences of the armed conflict for the most vulnerable”.

Aharon Barak, fourth from right, at the opening of the hearings at the International Court of Justice in the Hague.

Image:
Mr Barak, fourth from right, at the opening of the hearings at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Pic: AP

The judge was born in Lithuania in 1936 and was one of only a few children who survived in the Jewish ghetto in the central Lithuanian city of Kovno during World War Two.

He has called his survival a miracle, saying: “Since that episode, I have never feared death.”

Mr Barak, left, with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997

Image:
Mr Barak, left, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 1997. Pic: Reuters

Mr Barak was smuggled out of the ghetto by his mother who hid him in a bag of uniforms that were manufactured there.

He immigrated to then British Mandate Palestine in 1947, a year before it became Israel.

Three decades later, between 1975 and 1978, Mr Barak served as Israel’s attorney general.

In 1978 he was appointed to the Israeli Supreme Court and served as its president from 1995 to 2006 when he retired.

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‘We expect Israel to abide by ICJ measures’

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Mr Barak is known as a champion of Supreme Court activism and has been a vocal critic of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose judicial reform push last year bitterly polarised the Israeli public.

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In an interview last November with Canadian daily The Globe and Mail, Mr Barak voiced support for Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

“I agree totally with what the government is doing,” he said.

Asked about accusations that Israel was conducting a genocidal war in Gaza, Mr Barak said that term should be used to describe the 7 October attacks on Israel by Hamas.

“What we are doing is to prevent them from doing it again,” he said.

Written by: Newsroom

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