ICJ rules in favour of SA orders Israel to prevent genocidal acts

Gaza, once a bustling city teeming with life, has been reduced to a haunting ghost town, bearing the painful remnants of shattered dreams, particularly those of thousands of children who perished.

Lingering in the air are the spirits of mothers and fathers who sacrificed everything in a desperate attempt to save their loved ones.

Those who made it through the relentless storm are suffering from broken hearts, trauma-haunted minds and worn souls. Yet, in the face of such despair, there is a glimmer of hope.

On Friday, a landmark decision from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) brought a ray of hope as it ruled in favour of South Africa’s request for provisional measures against Israel over its war in Gaza.

The judgement

ICJ has deemed South Africa’s accusation that Israel is engaging in genocide plausible, rejecting Israel’s request to dismiss the case.

“The court is acutely aware of the extent of the human tragedy unfolding in the region and is deeply concerned about the continuing loss of life and human suffering.

“Israel launched a large-scale military operation in Gaza by land, air and sea, which has caused massive civilian casualties, extensive destruction of civilian infrastructure, and the displacement of the overwhelming majority of Gaza’s population.”

In its decision, the ICJ directed Israel to undertake all necessary measures to prevent further violations of the Genocide Convention and to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza. The court emphasised that Israel must ensure its military forces refrain from acts of genocide and must also preserve evidence related to the alleged genocide.

Israel is required to provide a report to the court within a month, detailing the actions it is taking to comply with the order aimed at preventing genocide in Gaza.

The case

South Africa took Israel to the highest court in the world, accusing the state of committing genocide in the beleaguered region.

The case, filed in December, revolves around the deadly conflict in Gaza that ignited on October 7, 2023, when Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, launched attacks on Israel.

In response, Israel carried out air strikes on Gaza and launched a ground offensive, resulting in over 21,000 casualties in Gaza, with the numbers continuing to rise as the bombardment intensified.

Hamas militants initiated a major attack on Israel from Gaza, causing 1,200 casualties and the taking of 240 hostages.

A temporary truce in November saw the release of some hostages by Hamas and the exchange of Palestinian prisoners by Israel. However, Israeli military operations persisted with ongoing air strikes and ground activities.

South Africa’s legal team argued that Israel’s military attack on Gaza exhibited genocidal intent, contending that Israel’s actions go beyond a conflict and violate international law.

Emphasising the dire humanitarian situation, they urged immediate measures to protect Palestinians. South Africa claims that Israel’s actions constitute two genocidal acts: mass killings and harm to Palestinians’ well-being, accusing Israel of failing to prevent or punish these acts.

In a counterargument, Israel’s legal team asserted that the state acted in self-defense. They argued that civilian casualties during the conflict were an unfortunate consequence of warfare and not evidence of genocidal intent.

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