International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued its ruling on the emergency measures sought by South Africa in its genocide case against Israel concerning the war in the Gaza Strip, but stopped short of ordering a ceasefire. The court, in a comprehensive decision, stressed its jurisdiction in the case, addressing critical aspects of the alleged genocide.
The landmark announcement, delivered by Judge Donoghue, emphasises that Israel is obligated to “take all measures within its power” to ensure the prevention of any acts covered by the genocide convention. Judge Donoghue stated that the ICJ has directed Israel to act “with immediate effect” to ensure that its forces do not engage in any actions that would violate the provisions of the genocide convention.
The ICJ’s ruling obliges Israel to take immediate measures to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip. These measures include preventing and punishing incitement to genocide, allowing humanitarian aid into the region, and enhancing efforts to protect Palestinians. However, notably, the court did not order an immediate ceasefire.
The court instructed Israel to report back within one month on the measures taken to prevent genocide and to increase humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.
The judges refrained from ruling on the merits of the genocide allegations.
The ICJ sided with most of South Africa’s arguments, including jurisdiction and standing, dissatisfaction lingers over the final operative paragraph. South Africa sought provisional measures that were not granted by the court. However, the ruling provides a roadmap for specific actions, including the submission of a report by Israel within a month.
The protected group mentioned in the ruling is identified as Palestinians, particularly in Gaza and the West Bank. The challenge of safeguarding Palestinians amid ongoing military operations is acknowledged.
South Africa hailed the ruling as a decisive victory for the international rule of law. Expressing gratitude to the ICJ for the prompt ruling, South Africa welcomed the outlined provisional measures, hoping for implementation by Israel.
The ICJ president pointedly mentioned that the court has taken note of statements made by senior Israeli officials. Specifically, Defence Minister Yoav Gallant’s directive to impose a “complete siege” on Gaza City and his expressed intent to “eliminate everything,” utilising language that characterises the situation as a struggle against “human animals,” was quoted. The court did not remain indifferent to the words of Israel’s President, Isaac Herzog, who attributed responsibility for the situation to the entire Palestinian nation.
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