NSC’s John Kirby says “no basis for accusations of genocide against Israel,” when asked South Africa’s accusations.

The National Security Council’s John Kirby, when asked at the White House press briefing Thursday about South Africa accusing Israel of genocide against Palestinians at the International Court of Justice, said there is “no basis for accusations of genocide against Israel” —

Reporter: “Today at the hearing of the ICJ, the judge said that under Article 51 of the Convention that Israel is a signatory to, Gaza is an occupied territory. Despite the fact that Israelis withdrew troops, Israel maintains control over land and sea. And therefore, the protection of civilians in Gaza is a legal obligation of Israel. So, number one, do you agree that Gaza is occupied? And second, is protection of civilians legally under the Israeli jurisdiction?”

Kirby: “I’m not going to render a legal opinion from this podium, Nadia. We have said repeatedly that we believe these allegations, this case is unfounded and that there’s no basis for accusations of genocide against Israel. That’s not a word that ought to be thrown around lightly, and we certainly don’t believe that it applies here. Now, to the question about civilians, again, I’m not an international lawyer, I’m not going to pretend to be, but we have since the beginning talked to our Israeli counterparts about the special burdens that modern militaries, particularly modern democratic militaries, have when they conduct military operations to protect innocent civilians and to protect civilian infrastructure. Those conversations continue, including on Secretary Blinken’s trip.”