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Human Rights

Israel must prevent genocide in Gaza: ICJ

Photo: Quds News/X

International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take measures to prevent genocide in Gaza on Friday. However, it did not order a ceasefire.

“Israel must, in accordance with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, in relation to Palestinians in Gaza, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of this Convention”, it said.

South Africa had moved the top UN court on January 11, presenting that Israel is engaged in a genocidal assault on the Gaza Strip, and demanded immediate ceasefire among others.

In response to which, the legal team representing Israel rejected the allegations and accused South Africa of presenting a “grossly distorted” picture of the truth.

The court acknowledged the entitlement of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide, asserting that Palestinians seem to fall within the protected category outlined in the genocide convention.

In a much-anticipated ruling by the panel, the ICJ opted not to dismiss the case. Joan E. Donoghue, the court’s president, said, “The court is acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy that is unfolding in the region and is deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life and human suffering”.

Listing down several reasons, ICJ said, “… the Court considers that it cannot accede to Israel’s request that the case be removed from the General List”.

The interim ruling issued by the court has mandated six provisional measures, directing Israel to take necessary actions to prevent genocidal acts, prevent and punish direct or public incitement to genocide, promptly and effectively facilitate humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza, and take effective measures to prevent the destruction.

The ICJ has instructed Israel to preserve evidence and submit a compliance report to the court in a month.

“Israel must submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to this Order within one month, as from the date of this Order”, which will then give the opportunity for South Africa to submit its comments thereon, the court added.It further mentioned a few acts that Israel needs to ensure its military does not commit — (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group.

In the ruling, a large majority of the 17-judge panel of the court voted in favour of urgent measures, aligning closely with South Africa’s requests.

There was an exception to ordering a halt to military action in Gaza, a key element South Africa had sought, specifically requesting an immediate ceasefire.

Response of the concerning parties to the ICJ ruling:

South Africa celebrated what it deemed a “decisive victory” for the international rule of law on Friday, following the ICJ’s favourable decision to grant its request for imposing emergency measures against Israel in response to its military actions in Gaza.

Thanking the court, South Africa also said that it sincerely hopes that Israel will not frustrate the application of the order.

The Palestinian foreign minister Riyad Al-Maliki welcomed the order and said that it is an “important reminder that no state is above the law”.

“We call on all states to ensure that all provisional measures ordered by the Court are implemented, including by Israel, the occupying power. This is a binding legal obligation”, he said.

Senior Hamas official, Sami Abu Zuhri welcomed the ruling saying, “The International Court of Justice ruling is an important development that contributes to isolating the occupation (Israel) and exposing its crimes in Gaza. We call for compelling the occupation to implement the court’s decisions.”

On the other hand, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We will continue to defend ourselves and our citizens while adhering to international law.”

He also said that “Israel is fighting a just war like no other”.

United States said it still believes genocide allegations against Israel ‘unfounded.

“We continue to believe that allegations of genocide are unfounded and note the court did not make a finding about genocide or call for a ceasefire in its ruling and that it called for the unconditional, immediate release of all hostages being held by Hamas,” a US spokesperson said.

As per Al-Jazeera’s latest updates, at least 26,083 killed and 64,110 wounded in Israeli attacks on Gaza since October 7.

Israel initiated a large-scale air and ground violence in Gaza following an attack by Hamas members, resulting in the death of civilians, including women and children, the abduction and imprisonment of many.

Thousands are still missing under the rubble, while most of them are presumed dead.

A final decision by ICJ for the full case brought by South Africa could reportedly take years.

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