ICJ's Initial Ruling: Israel Ordered to 'Prevent Genocidal Acts in Gaza'

The ICJ orders Israel to take measures to protect Palestinians but stopped short of ordering an immediate ceasefire.

2 min read
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The International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Friday, 26 January ordered that Israel must “take all measures within its power” to prevent all acts within the scope of the Genocide Convention in Gaza.

The ICJ was ruling on the nine provisional measures requested by South Africa in its genocide claim against Israel.

Although the court did not agree to South Africa’s request for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, it has directed Israel to allow the entry of basic services and humanitarian assistance into the Palestinian enclave.

Judge Joan E. Donoghue, the court’s President emphasised that the interim ruling creates binding international legal obligations and ordered Israel to report to the court within a month on the steps taken to ensure compliance.

The court started by noting that on 7 October, "Hamas and other armed groups carried out an attack in Israel."

Following the attack, Court added that Israel launched a military operation that displaced the majority of the population of Gaza and resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries as well as massive destruction of homes, forceable displacement and extensive damage to civilian infrastructure.

The Court further considered that Israel must ensure with immediate effect that its military forced do not commit any of the aforementioned acts.

'Palestinians, a Protected Group Within Genocide Convention' 

Some of the key takeaways from the proceeding are:

  • South Africa has standing to submit this case. In essence, the judges agreed that South Africa had jurisdiction in the case and that some of things that they are alleging have taken place within the definition of the Genocide Convention.

  • The evidence is "sufficient to conclude" that at least some of South Africa's claims of genocide against Israel are "plausible."

  • "The Palestinians appear to constitute a distinct national, ethnic, racial, or religious group and hence are a protected group within the meaning of Article 2 of the Genocide Convention," the judge noted.

  • The court also reiterated that this case is not just about genocide, but about 'prevention of genocide and punishing of incitement of genocide.'

  • The court also called for immediate and unconditional release of hostages abducted during the attack in Israel on 7 October 2023.

Meanwhile Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a video response posted on X, stated that "The vile attempt to deny Israel this fundamental right is blatant discrimination against the Jewish state, and it was justly rejected."

He added that the "the charge of genocide leveled against Israel is not only false, it’s outrageous, and decent people everywhere should reject it."

These public hearings have been conducted from 11-12 January. South Africa has argued that Israel’s military operations in Gaza violated the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (Genocide Convention).

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Topics:  Gaza   Palestine    South Africa 

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