The United Nations Supreme Court on Friday ordered Israel to take steps to prevent and punish direct incitement of genocide in the Gaza war, but stopped short of ordering a cease-fire in the case brought by South Africa.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) stated: “The State of Israel shall take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of any acts within the scope of Article 2 of the Genocide Convention.”
In a sweeping judgment, the majority of the ICJ’s 17-judge panel found emergency measures covering most of what South Africa had requested, with the notable exception of an order to halt Israeli military operations in Gaza. Voted in favor of.
The court ordered Israel to refrain from any acts that could fall under the Genocide Convention and for Israeli forces to refrain from committing any acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip.
Israel must report to the court within a month on what it is doing to comply with the order.
Although this decision is legally binding, courts have no means of enforcing it.
Kenneth Ross, former executive director of Human Rights Watch, told CBC News on Friday that the court does not have the ability to rule on a ceasefire because Hamas is a non-state actor. The court has called on Hamas to release the hostages it still holds from the October 7 attack on southern Israel.
“Frankly, I think this is as far as the court can go,” Ross said.
Ross said the ruling could bring about “major changes” to the lives of local Palestinians and could put “huge political pressure” on Israel to comply with the ruling.
The October 7 Hamas-led attack on Israel killed an estimated 1,200 people, including Israeli security forces, civilians, and foreigners, according to the Israeli government. About 250 other people were taken hostage. Israel responded with heavy force in the Gaza Strip, claiming the attack was aimed at Hamas and his supporters, not civilians.
Gaza’s Health Ministry said thousands of women and children were among the more than 25,000 people killed in the area since then, but the tally included civilians and Hamas fighters. There is no distinction between
Limited humanitarian aid has been allowed to Gaza for the past 100 days.
The ICJ, also known as the World Court, did not address South Africa’s main argument about whether Israel committed genocide, but said Friday it would not throw out the case at Israel’s request.
The court said that Palestinians appear to be a protected group under the Genocide Convention.
“The ICJ judges assessed the facts and the law and ruled in favor of humanity and international law,” Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said in a televised address.
Israeli judge votes in favor of two bills
In its first statement, South Africa hailed a “decisive victory” for the international rule of law. Outside a courtroom in The Hague, South Africa’s International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor said it was important for states to “exercise their responsibility to protect global citizens”.
“South Africa was of the view that we could not stand by,” she said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s “commitment to international law is unwavering” but again rejected the premise of South Africa’s case.
“The accusations of genocide against Israel are not only false, they are outrageous and should be rejected by any decent citizen,” Netanyahu said.
“Our war is against Hamas terrorists, not Palestinian civilians,” he added. “Even as Hamas uses civilians as human shields, we will continue to advance humanitarian assistance and do everything in our power to keep civilians out of harm’s way.”
In a separate opinion, Israeli judge Aharon Barak of the 17-member panel voted in favor of two of the bills, saying, “I am convinced that there is no plausibility of genocide.” He said he joined the majority in ordering Israel to refrain from public incitement “in the hope that this measure will help de-escalate tensions and deter harmful speech.”
He said he voted in favor of the bill on securing humanitarian assistance in the hope that it would “reduce the impact of armed conflict on the most vulnerable people.” The Ugandan judge was the only member of the panel who did not vote in favor of the humanitarian measure.
The United States, through a State Department spokesperson, said the ruling is consistent with the U.S. government’s view that Israel has the right to take action in accordance with international law.
“We continue to believe that the allegations of genocide are baseless, and the court has not made any finding of genocide or called for a cease-fire in its ruling, and calls for the unconditional and immediate release of all hostages held by Hamas. We will be mindful of what you are asking.” a spokesperson said.
In Ottawa on Friday, Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly issued a statement saying Canada will continue to “monitor this case very closely” and that Canada supports the ICJ’s role in resolving disputes, but that its support remains pointed out that “this does not mean that we accept the following premise.” This is a lawsuit brought by South Africa. ”
meanwhile 2 days public hearing Earlier this month, South Africa blamed Hamas for a brutal attack in Israel in October, but said the scale of Israel’s response in Gaza was unwarranted.
South Africa asked the court to order Israel to cease attacks on Palestinian territory, one of nine emergency measures sought by Israel. It also calls for more humanitarian aid to Gaza.
Israel has flatly rejected the genocide claims and argued in court that South Africa’s claims were “distorted”. Israel also said it had the right to defend itself and was targeting Hamas, not Palestinian civilians.