After Hamas’s Oct. 7 attack on Israel, South Africa’s foreign minister, Naledi Pandor, spoke by phone with Hamas’s political leader, Ismail Haniyeh, and later had to explain that the discussions were centered on providing humanitarian aid to Gaza. .

South Africa’s case against Israel could generate a backlash globally and at home. U.S. officials have supported Israel, calling the case meritless. And some in the small but outspoken community of South African Jews, a group that played a key role in the anti-apartheid struggle, have criticized their government over the genocide case.

Giving voice to those criticisms, Zev Krengel, the president of the South Africa Jewish Board of Deputies, called it “a massive betrayal.”

Mr. Krengel accused the South African government, led by the A.N.C., of hypocrisy, saying that it hadn’t pursued cases against other countries that had committed atrocities. When Sudan’s former president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, came to South Africa for a summit in 2015, South African authorities refused to arrest him even though he was wanted on charges of genocide and war crimes by the International Criminal Court.

“We’ve never seen the A.N.C. government more excited than trying to prove the Jewish state is doing genocide,” Mr. Krengel said.

Ronald Lamola, South Africa’s justice minister, said the case was not an attack on Jews but was about urgently saving Palestinian lives. More than 23,000 people have been killed in Israeli attacks in Gaza since Oct. 7, according to the Gazan health ministry, which does not distinguish between civilians and combatants. Israel’s attacks came after Hamas led an incursion that killed 1,200 people, according to Israeli officials.

“We can’t come in two or three years time when the entire population will have been annihilated to say, ‘We regret, we should have stopped it,’” Mr. Lamola said in an interview.

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