Gaza: The International Court of Justice Orders Israel to Prevent Genocide

The Peace Palace The Peace Palace Photo by GAPS via Istock

Israel must take measures to prevent genocide

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has issued a landmark decision concerning Gaza, ordering Israel to take immediate measures to prevent genocide. This verdict was pronounced on January 26, 2024, in The Hague, after South Africa presented the case asserting that Israel was violating the Genocide Convention.
According to reports from
Human Rights Watch, these measures include demands directed at Israel to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid services and to prosecute incitement to genocide.

The ICJ hearings took place on January 11th and 12th, following South Africa's requests for provisional measures.
This marked
Israel's first formal response before an independent and impartial tribunal regarding accusations of atrocities against the Palestinian people since October 7, 2023. The case was initially filed on 29th December 2023 by South Africa, alleging Israel's violation of the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. Balkees Jarrah, Associate Director of International Justice at HRW, stressed the urgency of this decision, emphasizing the need for immediate action to prevent further atrocities in Gaza.

However, on 6th March 2024, South Africa submitted an urgent application to the ICJ, seeking further interim measures and
modification of the Court's Order from 26th January 2024. This application was motivated by new developments and changes in Gaza, particularly due to widespread famine caused by Israel's continued violations of the Convention and failure to comply with previous provisional measures set by the Court.

The ICJ reiterated the importance of governments using their influence to ensure the enforcement of the law, considering the severity of civilian suffering caused by alleged Israeli war crimes.
Israel was ordered to take specific measures to protect the rights claimed by South Africa, including the right of Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide. Israel was also tasked with preserving evidence related to the case and reporting on the implementation of the measures within a month. This order is legally binding on both parties and will be automatically transmitted to the UN Security Council.

Despite South Africa's request for further measures, the Court's rules allow judges to determine which measures to order. It is important to note that the case before the ICJ is a "state-to-state" dispute and does not involve the International Criminal Court (ICC).
However, the ICC prosecutor has confirmed that her office is investigating alleged crimes committed in Gaza and the West Bank since 2014, including the unlawful conduct of all parties in the current hostilities between Israel and Palestinian armed groups.



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