ICJ urges Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza; No ceasefire mandate
The World Court, on Friday, mandated Israel to prevent genocide against Palestinians and enhance civilian aid in Gaza. However, the court did not mandate a ceasefire, disappointing South Africa, the plaintiff.
The ruling, a blow to Israel, did not fulfill Palestinian expectations for an immediate war halt. Israel, disputing the genocide claims stemming from the World War Two Holocaust, had sought case dismissal.
The International Court of Justice (ICJ) acknowledged the potential violation of Palestinian rights amid significant humanitarian distress in Gaza. The court called for Palestinian armed groups to release hostages from the Oct. 7 attacks, which escalated the conflict.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry welcomed the ruling as a reinforcement of international law. Senior Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri sees it as isolating Israel and highlighting its Gaza crimes.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, while appreciating the absence of a ceasefire order, denounced the genocide allegations as "outrageous," affirming Israel's self-defense stance.
Report Required in One Month
Israel had contested the case, initiated by South Africa at the ICJ, on the grounds of preventing genocide. South Africa accused Israel of state-led genocide, commencing post-Hamas militants' incursion, killing 1,200, and abducting over 240.
Seeking emergency measures, Pretoria highlighted the conflict's toll: over 26,000 Palestinian casualties and widespread displacement due to three months of intense bombardment.
The ICJ judges ordered Israel to prevent genocide by its troops, penalize incitement, and improve the humanitarian situation, with a progress report due in a month. The court, while not ruling on the genocide allegations, lacks enforcement power for its decisions.
ICJ President Judge Joan Donoghue underscored the Palestinian crisis in Gaza, particularly affecting children, citing U.N. reports. She also mentioned Israeli officials' calls for stringent campaigns, necessitating the court's intervention.
Israel labeled South Africa's accusations as distorted, insisting on its defensive actions and efforts to protect civilians. South Africa and the European Union urged immediate and full compliance with the court order. The United States, acknowledging the ruling, reiterated Israel's right to act against future attacks.
Continued Conflict in Khan Younis
In Gaza's southern regions, recent intense conflicts have displaced hundreds of thousands. Palestinians express mixed feelings: disappointment over the non-implementation of a ceasefire but hope for eventual accountability.
Mustafa Ibrahim, a human rights activist, views the ruling positively. In Israel, Jonathan Dekel-Chen, father of a hostage in Gaza, appreciates the ICJ's focus on hostage release, a factor triggering the war.
A Friday video from militants showed three female hostages pleading for conflict resolution. Israel condemns these videos as psychological warfare.
Negotiations, involving the U.S., Qatar, and others, are underway for a temporary truce to facilitate hostage and prisoner exchanges and aid delivery to Gaza. CIA Director William Burns and his Israeli counterpart are set for discussions in Europe on a second Gaza hostage deal.
In Khan Younis, Israeli forces intensified their strikes on Hamas, targeting militants and infrastructure. Residents report destruction in the city's western part and allege Israeli interference in rescue operations, which Israel denies.
Hezbollah, supporting Hamas, reported four fatalities in an Israeli strike in southern Lebanon. The group claimed multiple rocket attacks on Israel, including the Burkan missile with substantial explosive capacity.
In a significant development, the U.S. suspended funding to the UN Palestinian Refugee Agency (UNRWA) following Israeli allegations of UNRWA employees' involvement in the Oct. 7 attacks. UNRWA is committed to investigating and holding accountable any involved staff.