Israel prepared to defend itself on Thursday at the top U.N. court against accusations of genocide in Gaza, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly rebuffed for the first time calls by some right-wing ministers to permanently occupy the enclave.

As Israel's war in Gaza continues to rage, the International Court of Justice in The Hague was to hold hearings on Thursday and Friday in a case brought by South Africa in December claiming Israel's war against Hamas militants in Gaza violates the 1948 Genocide Convention.

Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy said on Wednesday: "Tomorrow, the State of Israel will appear before the International Court of Justice to dispel South Africa's absurd blood libel, as Pretoria gives political and legal cover to the Hamas Rapist Regime."