The judges, who avoid imposing a ceasefire, urge the Israeli authorities to guarantee the arrival of aid to the Gazans
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) has urged the Israeli authorities to adopt "all possible measures" to protect the Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip from alleged abuses contemplated in the Genocide Convention and to "urgently" ensure that receives the necessary help, in a battery of precautionary measures that, however, does not imply an immediate cessation of the military offensive.
Judge Joan E. Donoghue has stated in a public reading that the ICJ has jurisdiction over this case, endorsing that South Africa can sue Israel for alleged violation of the aforementioned convention and that the litigation can therefore continue. Donoghue has stressed that a "human tragedy" is taking place in Gaza and has confirmed that the ICJ is "deeply concerned" by the high number of deaths.
In fact, he has exposed some of the figures given by local authorities, despite the fact that there is no "independent verification", and statements from UN agencies to account for the "devastation" that the Strip has suffered for more than one hundred days. . "The situation of children in Gaza is especially devastating," she lamented.
Among the issues that the judges have determined in this first analysis is that some of the accusations brought against Israel fall within the Genocide Convention and that, according to said treaty, the Palestinians have the right to protection as a group. The Israeli authorities demanded the immediate closure of the case.
The precautionary measures, which are mandatory, do not imply a direct order to stop the attacks on the Gaza Strip and are more of an exhortation to prevent and prosecute any abuse against the population. They propose, however, that Israel must inform the court within a month of the steps it has taken to comply with this Friday's orders.
South Africa presented its lawsuit against Israel at the end of December, under the premise that a "genocide" could be being committed in the Gaza Strip, where more than 26,000 people have already died, according to data released this Friday by the Gaza Ministry of Health. .
While waiting for the court based in The Hague to rule in the future on the merits of the issue, Pretoria requested the imposition of provisional measures, and the judges agreed this Friday that the situation in Gaza, which is already " catastrophic", may deteriorate further before the final verdict.
South Africa's lawyers, who have the support of more than 50 countries, put on the table during the preliminary hearings not only the death toll and weapons used, but also that Israeli political leaders engaged in what they described as "genocidal rhetoric." ", for example calling the Palestinians "human animals." Likewise, they denounced the destruction of civil infrastructure and the forced transfer of the population.
For Israel, however, this is an "unfounded" complaint, a thesis it shares with its main international ally, the United States. In this sense, the Israeli defense accused South Africa of presenting a "deeply distorted" version of reality and justified in substance and form the offensive, which the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu continues to be necessary to eradicate an "existential threat."
Lawyers representing Israel argued that the war was against Hamas, which controls Gaza, and "not against the Palestinian people." In fact, they maintained that harm to civilians is common in every conflict and there can be "undesirable" results, although they held Hamas responsible for them.
"Under the pretext of an accusation of genocide against Israel, this court is asked to put an end to the continuous attacks of an organization that pursues a truly genocidal agenda," summarized Tal Becker, legal advisor to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, during his presentation. .
CHARACTERISTICS OF THE ICJ
The ICJ is part of the UN structure and its rulings are therefore legally binding for all member states of the organization. However, it lacks its own tools to apply them, which has caused, for example, Russia to not comply with the order to stop the aggression against Ukraine that the court issued weeks after the start of the offensive in February 2022.
Unlike what happens with the International Criminal Court (ICC), it does not judge people individually, but rather settles disputes between States, as is the case of South Africa's lawsuit against Israel on which it ruled this Friday. The case is still in an initial phase and can take years until a final, non-appealable sentence is reached.