The case brought by South Africa in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) accusing Israel of committing genocide against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip is historic.

It is critical not only for Palestinians, who have been subjected to gross and systemic human rights violations for more than 75 years. It could also make or break the international order as a whole.

Genocide is often referred to as the “crime of crimes” — the ultimate, gravest and most unlawful of offenses. It is defined in international law as any one of several acts — such as killing, causing serious bodily or mental harm, or inflicting conditions calculated to bring about destruction — committed against a national, racial or religious group. For such acts to qualify as genocide, it has to be shown that the perpetrator carried them out with the intent of destroying the targeted group in whole or in part.