ICJ orders Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza

THE International Court of Justice (ICJ) has ordered Israel to prevent genocide in its war with Gaza.

The ruling was delivered by presiding judge Joan Donoghue in The Hague on Friday, January 26, during the determination of a suit filed by South Africa against Israel.

South Africa filed a petition against Israel in December 2023, accusing the Israeli government of genocide and urging the court to order an emergency suspension of the attack on Gaza.

The petitioner alleged that Israel was “intent on destroying the Palestinians in Gaza,” and called for a halt in the attacks.

It urged the ICJ to end the violence in Gaza to protect Palestinians from “from further serious and irreparable harm.”

“The point is not simply that Israel is acting disproportionately. The point is that the prohibition on genocide is an absolute. Nothing can ever justify genocide,” a lawyer representing South Africa, Vaughan Lowe said.

He also argued that Israel’s military activities in Gaza were not targeted against Hamas alone but affected the entire Palestinian population.

“Israel says it aims to destroy Hamas. But months of bombing, flattening entire residential blocks, cutting off food and water to an entire population cannot credibly be argued to be a manhunt for Hamas,” Lowe said.

During the ruling on Friday, Donoghue ordered Israel to contain the ongoing carnage in Gaza. Though she did not order a ceasefire, the presiding judge ruled that Israel must take immediate and effective measures to allow the provision of urgently needed humanitarian services in the area.

She said the civilian population in the Gaza Strip was “extremely vulnerable” and was at risk of irreparable harm before the ICJ reached its final decision on the issue.

“In light of the foregoing, the court considers that there is urgency, in the sense that there is a real and imminent risk that irreparable prejudice will be caused to the rights found by the court to be plausible before it gives its final decision,” she said.

The ICJ also ruled that Israel should report to the court in a month with details on whatever effort it puts into upholding the ruling.

    Israel halts flights to South Africa

    Meanwhile, on Friday, Israel announced the suspension of flights to South Africa by its airline, El Al.

    “El Al is expected to stop operating flights to South Africa due to a lack of passengers, originating from South Africa’s accusations of genocide against Israel at the International Court of Justice, according to a source within the company,” Jerusalem Post daily reported.

    The suspension may not be unconnected to the case in The Hague.

    According to a report, the decision resulted from a commercial downturn and security concerns due to the ICJ ruling.

    Ijeoma Opara is a journalist with The ICIR. Reach her via [email protected] or @ije_le on Twitter.

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