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Friday, March 1, 2024
JOHANNESBURG, Jan 26 2024 (IPS) - The International Court of Justice today told Israel to take all measures within its power to prevent a genocide in the Gaza Strip.
Judge Joan E. Donoghue, the court’s president, read the order directing the State of Israel to abide by temporary measures to stop the humanitarian crisis facing the Palestinian population in Gaza from worsening.
Donoghue said that the facts and circumstances were sufficient to conclude that some of the “rights claimed by South Africa and for which it is seeking protection (for the Palestinian people in Gaza) were plausible.”
The International Court of Justice (ICJ), the main court of the United Nations, issued its ruling in the case South Africa submitted regarding the application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip. You can read the full order here.
“The court is not called upon for purposes of its decision on the request for the indication of provisional measures to establish the existence of breaches of obligations under the Genocide Convention, but to determine whether the circumstances require the indication of provisional measures for the protection of rights under that instrument,” she explained.
Quoting from UN General Assembly Resolution 96 of December 11, 1946, she said genocide shocks “the conscience of mankind.”
Before going through the list of provisional measures, she quoted high-profile members of the United Nations, including its Secretary General, António Guterres, who warned the Security Council on December 6, 2023, that health care in Gaza was collapsing.
“Nowhere is safe in Gaza, amid constant bombardment by the Israel Defense Forces and without shelter or the essentials to survive. I expect public order to break to completely break down soon, due to the desperate conditions rendering even limited humanitarian assistance impossible.”
He then went on to warn that the situation could get worse, “including epidemic diseases and increased pressure for mass displacement into neighboring countries. We are facing a severe risk of the collapse of the humanitarian system. The situation is fast deteriorating into a catastrophe, with potentially irreversible implications for Palestinians as a whole.”
Donoghue told the court that it considers the rights in question in the proceeding plausible.
“The court considers that the plausible rights in question in this proceeding, namely, the right of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip to be protected from acts of genocide and related prohibited acts identified in Article 3 of the Genocide Convention and the right of South Africa to seek Israel’s compliance with the latter’s obligation under the convention, are of such a nature that prejudiced them and was “capable of causing irreparable harm.”
She pointed out that the provisional measures didn’t have to match those South Africa requested.
In terms of the order:
“The court reaffirms the decision given in the present proceedings and in no way prejudges the question of the jurisdiction of the court to deal with the merits of the case or any questions related to the admissibility of the application or to the merits themselves.”
She added that the court was gravely concerned about the fate of the hostages abducted during the attack in Israel on October 7, 2023, and held since then by Hamas and other armed groups, and called for their immediate and unconditional release.
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