March 5, 2024

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in the Netherlands was poised on Friday to deliver its decision on South Africa’s plea for “provisional measures” against Israel, amid allegations of state-led genocide. The ICJ has issued pivotal judgments in the Israel-Gaza conflict case. Here are the crucial highlights from the court proceedings:

1. Jurisdiction Confirmed: The ICJ declared that it has the jurisdiction to rule over emergency measures in the case, signaling the court’s commitment to addressing the ongoing conflict.

2. Prevention of Genocide: The court ordered Israel to take measures to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip. This includes ensuring that Israeli forces do not commit genocide and preserving evidence related to alleged genocide.

3. Incitement to Genocide: Israel was further directed to prevent and punish direct incitement of genocide in Gaza, highlighting the importance of curbing actions that may contribute to the escalation of violence.

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4. Humanitarian Aid Mandate: The ICJ mandated Israel to allow humanitarian assistance into the Gaza Strip. This directive emphasizes the urgency of providing essential services and aid to the population affected by the conflict.

5. Reporting Obligation: Israel is obliged to report to the court within one month on the measures taken to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza. This reporting requirement establishes international legal obligations for Israel.

6. Dehumanizing Language Critique: The court took note of statements made by senior Israeli officials that were deemed as “dehumanizing language” against Palestinians. This included references to a “complete siege” of Gaza and characterizing the conflict as fighting against “human animals.”

7. Recognition of Palestinian Rights: The ICJ affirmed the Palestinians’ right to be protected from acts of genocide, acknowledging them as a protected group under the Genocide Convention.

8. Human Tragedy Acknowledged: Judge Donoghue expressed the court’s acute awareness of the extent of the human tragedy unfolding in the region. The large-scale military operation by Israel in Gaza resulted in numerous casualties, extensive destruction of infrastructure, and the displacement of a significant portion of the population.

9. South Africa’s Standing: The court recognized that some allegations against Israel fall within the provisions of the Genocide Convention, acknowledging South Africa’s standing to submit the case.

10. Judge Robinson’s Absence: While 16 of the court’s 17 judges were present, Judge Robinson, who participated in deliberations and voting, was unable to take his seat on the bench.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) did not order a halt to Israel’s military operations in Gaza, despite South Africa’s request. The court emphasized that its provisional measures orders carry legal force and establish international legal obligations. A definitive ruling on whether Israel is engaged in genocide is expected to take some time.

The ICJ’s jurisdiction is limited to states, allowing it to give orders to Israel but not to non-state entities like Hamas. The ruling is legally binding, but the ICJ has limited means to enforce compliance. States could potentially seek UN Security Council sanctions against Israel for non-compliance.

The Israeli government has previously stated that The Hague cannot prevent it from restoring security to both the south and north of the country.

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