The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza

Международный Суд ООН предписал Израилю предотвращать акты геноцида в Газе

Hearings in the case “South Africa v. Israel” at the International Court of Justice. The International Court of Justice ordered Israel to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza International law

The International Court of Justice in The Hague on Friday ruled on South Africa’s lawsuit against Israel. The court ruled that Palestinians have a right to protection from acts of genocide by Israel. The judges ordered the Jewish state to “take all measures within its power” to prevent the crime of genocide and to allow vital humanitarian aid to flow into the war-torn enclave.

Reading out the ruling at the Peace Palace in The Hague, ICJ President Joan Donoghue called for the release of all remaining hostages taken in Israel during the Hamas attack on Israeli settlements that killed some 1,200 people on October 7 last year.

The Court’s statement did not directly call for an immediate end to Israel’s full-scale military operation in the Strip, which has killed more than 26,000 people, according to Gaza health authorities.

Stressing that the International Court of Justice is “perfectly aware of the scale of the human tragedy unfolding in the region” since the outbreak of the Gaza war, Judge Donoghue said the Court remains “deeply concerned by the ongoing loss of life and human suffering.”

South Africa’s claim against Israel

The International Court of Justice held hearings on South Africa’s claim against Israel on January 11-12. South Africa has brought charges against Israel of committing genocide against the Palestinians at the UN’s highest court.

South African lawyers told a hearing that Israel had exhibited “genocidal behavior” since the start of the full-scale war in the Gaza Strip, which has been under occupation since 1967.

The South African lawsuit states that 6,000 bombs fell on Gaza in the first week of the Israeli operation. Multi-ton bombs were used both in the southern areas of the sector, which were considered safe from the point of view of the activity of Palestinian armed groups, and in the north, where refugee camps are located.

“This is nothing less than the deliberate destruction of Palestinians. No one is spared, not even newborn children,” South African representatives said, calling on the Court to oblige Israel to end its military operation in Gaza, ensure its residents have access to food, water and humanitarian aid, and not impede the access of international missions to the strip.

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During the hearings, Israel rejected the charges brought against South Africa. Lawyers for the Jewish state said the Oct. 7 Hamas attack justifies Israel’s exercise of its right to self-defense and that the Israeli military has two goals in Gaza – eliminating the existential threat to the country posed by Hamas militants and freeing the remaining hostages. Lawyers stressed that what is happening is a defensive war against Hamas, and not against the Palestinian people.

They also said that Hamas has turned Gaza into a “stronghold of terrorism” and that urban warfare always results in tragic civilian casualties and destruction of civilian infrastructure. Israel, they said, tried to mitigate the damage.

Judgment of the Court

Describing in detail the interim measures that Israel must take, the President of the International Court of Justice noted that South Africa and Israel are both States Parties to the Genocide Convention and are therefore obligated to “prevent and punish the crime of genocide.”

To quote Article Number 2 of the Genocide Convention signed after World War II war, Judge Donohue explained that genocide is defined as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group.” In the Court’s opinion, the Palestinian population of two million constitutes just such a group.

Turning to article number 3 of the Genocide Convention, which prohibits conspiracy to commit genocide and public incitement thereto, the judge said the International Court of Justice had taken note of a number of statements made by senior Israeli officials. These included statements by Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant, who reportedly told troops on the Gaza border that they were fighting “humanoids” that were “Palestinian ISIS.”


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