CAIRO - Egypt said on Sunday it was joining the case filed by South Africa in the International Court of Justice accusing Israel of committing genocide in Gaza.

A Foreign Ministry statement said Egypt's decision was motivated by the "sharp escalation and scope of Israeli attacks against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip".

It also spoke of "methodical practices against Palestinians that include directly targeting Palestinians, destroying the strip's infrastructure and forcing Palestinians into displacement or leaving their lands".

Cairo has been very critical of Israel's conduct in the Gaza war since its start more than seven months ago, but Sunday's move is by far the strongest.

Egypt and Israel are bound by a 1979 peace treaty.

The most populous Arab nation, Egypt strongly condemned last week's capture by Israel of the Palestinian side of its border crossing with Gaza, calling the move a threat to its national security.