ICJ orders Israel to ‘prevent acts of genocide’ in Gaza, fails to call for ceasefire

The Cradle, January 26, 2024 —

The top UN court ruled that Palestinians have a right to be protected from acts of genocide and ordered Israel to return within one month to report on what it is doing to uphold the provisional measures.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on 26 January ruled on provisional measures in South Africa’s genocide case against Israel, ordering Tel Aviv to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip and to allow humanitarian aid to enter the enclave.

“The court recalls that its orders on provisional measures have binding effect and thus create international legal obligations for any party to whom the provisional measures are addressed,” Presiding judge Joan Donoghue said at the end of Friday’s session.

The UN world court also recognized the Palestinians’ right to be protected from acts of genocide and ordered Israel to prevent and punish incitement to genocide in the Strip.

Israel must report to the ICJ within a month to report on what it is doing to uphold the provisional measures. Judge Donoghue added that the ruling creates “international legal obligations” for Israel.

However, the court failed to order an end to Israel’s ethnic cleansing campaign in Gaza or to call for a ceasefire.

Following the end of the session, Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir took to social media to lambast the World Court for being “antisemitic.”

“The decision of the antisemitic court in The Hague proves what was already known: This court does not seek justice, but rather the persecution of Jewish people. They were silent during the Holocaust, and today they continue the hypocrisy and take it another step further,” he wrote, neglecting the fact that the ICJ – in its current iteration – was founded in 1945, the same year the Nazi genocide of European Jews ended.

“Decisions that endanger the continued existence of the State of Israel must not be listened to,” the Jewish supremacist official added. “We must continue defeating the enemy until complete victory.”

Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri called the court’s decision a significant development that contributes to isolating Israel and exposing its crimes in Gaza. “We call for forcing the occupation to implement the court’s decisions,” he told Reuters.

According to experts, the ramifications for Israel are not going to be just legal but also diplomatic and political, as most UN member states stand on the side of an immediate ceasefire.

South Africa, which brought the landmark genocide case to the ICJ at the end of December, hailed Friday’s ruling as a “decisive victory” for the international rule of law.

Pretoria thanked the judges at The Hague and welcomed the provisional measures, adding that it sincerely hopes Israel will not act to frustrate the application of the court’s orders.

The statement further said the ruling marked a “significant milestone in the search for justice for the Palestinian people.”

The Palestinian foreign ministry issued a similar statement, saying it welcomed the ICJ ruling as an “important reminder” that no state is above the law.

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