Industry Desk: The UN’s top court has ordered Israel to act immediately to prevent genocide in Gaza, but stopped short of calling for Israel to suspend its military campaign in the war-torn enclave. The International Court of Justice said Israel must take “all measures” to “ensure with immediate effect that its military does not commit any acts” which could fall foul of the Genocide Convention. In the highly anticipated decision made by a panel of 17 judges, the International Court of Justice decided not to throw out the case – and ordered six so-called provisional measures to protect Palestinians in Gaza. “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,” Joan E. Donoghue, the court’s president, said.
Friday’s decision is only an interim one; it could take years for the full case brought by South Africa to be considered. Israel rejects the genocide accusation and had asked the court to throw the charges out.
South Africa had accused Israel of violating international laws on genocide in its war in Gaza in a case it brought two weeks ago to the Court, which sits in The Hague, the Netherlands.
It said Israel’s leadership was “intent on destroying the Palestinians as a group in Gaza,” and that its aerial and ground assaults on the enclave aimed to “bring about the destruction of its Palestinian people.”
South Africa and Israel are both parties to the genocide convention, meaning they are obliged not to commit genocide and to prevent and punish it.
South Africa asked the court to indicate “provisional measures,” which act like a restraining order to stop a dispute from escalating while the court considers the full merits of the case, which could take years.
To grant the measures, the court needed only to decide if prima facie, or “at first glance,” some of Israel’s acts could fall foul of the genocide convention.
In a preliminary ruling, the Court’s 17-judge panel on Friday issued six such measures, ordering Israel to take steps to limit the death and destruction caused by its military campaign, as well as to prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and to ensure the provision of humanitarian aid to Gaza.
The court’s decisions are binding and cannot be appealed, but it has no way of enforcing them.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated ahead of the ruling that Israel would not comply with an order to halt its war in Gaza.
“Nobody will stop us – not The Hague, not the axis of evil and not anybody else,” he wrote on X.
In its hearing earlier this month, Israel rejected what it called South Africa’s “grossly distorted story,” telling the court its war in Gaza was fought in self-defense, that it was targeting Hamas rather than Palestinian civilians, and that its leadership had not displayed genocidal intent.
It said the accusation of genocide was an attempt to “pervert the meaning” of the term and empty it of its “unique force.”
Israel claimed if genocidal acts had been committed, they were “perpetrated against Israel” on October 7, when Hamas fighters stormed into the country from Gaza, killing more than 1,200 people and taking 240 hostages, according to Israeli officials. Israel’s retaliatory offensive in Gaza has since killed more than 26,000 people, according to the Hamas-run health ministry in the enclave.
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