The International Court of Justice issued its first ruling in the South Africa v. Israel case on Friday, ordering the Jewish state to take all necessary measures to prevent genocide in Gaza. However, the court did not order Israel to stop its military operation against Hamas.
A panel of 17 judges agreed that the court, based in The Hague, has jurisdiction to hear the South African case, and confirmed seven judges. “Emergency measures” Requested by Pretoria. In addition to requiring Israel to refrain from committing acts of genocide, the judges ordered the Jewish state to punish members of its military who commit acts of genocide, as well as officials who publicly call for the extermination of Palestinians. The ruling said that Israel must also preserve evidence of any acts of genocide actually committed.
The judges also ruled that Israel “Immediate and effective action must be taken to address the adverse conditions of life in the Gaza Strip.” West Jerusalem was also ordered to submit a report to the court within a month with an update on what it is doing to comply with these measures.
The ruling falls short of South Africa's full list of demands, which included a measure ordering Israel to do so “Immediately suspend its military operations in and against Gaza.”
However, it also comes as a blow to Israel, which called on the court to drop the entire case, describing it as… “False and deceitful.”
Although the rulings of the International Court of Justice are final and legally binding, the court lacks any means to implement them. However, the Palestinian Foreign Ministry praised Friday's ruling, calling it a violation “Important reminder” That there is no state above the law.
South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor said on Friday that her country's goal was “To highlight the plight of innocent people in Palestine” And “Drawing attention to the absence of justice and freedom.” Regardless of how the case plays out, Pandor told Ubuntu Radio that Pretoria has already achieved these goals.
South Africa filed its case in late December, arguing that Israel was violating the UN Convention on the Prevention of Genocide. “Killing Palestinians in Gaza, causing them serious physical and mental harm, and subjecting them to living conditions designed to destroy them physically.”
Hamas fighters attacked Israel on October 7, killing about 1,200 people and taking nearly 250 hostage to Gaza. Israel responded by declaring war on the Palestinian armed movement and placing Gaza under an almost complete siege. After three weeks of aerial bombardment, Israeli ground forces entered the enclave in late October, where they are still fighting Hamas.
The Israeli operation led to the killing of more than 26,000 Palestinians, nearly two-thirds of whom were women and children, according to the latest figures issued by the Ministry of Health in Gaza. About 60% of the enclave's infrastructure has been destroyed and a quarter of its population is hungry and unable to access drinking water, according to a UN report published earlier this month.
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