ICJ orders Israel to prevent genocide in Gaza but stops short of ordering cease-fire
By TOI Desk Report January 27, 2024 Update on : January 27, 2024
The International Court of Justice has ordered Israel to prevent genocide against Palestinians in Gaza but stopped short of calling for an immediate ceasefire.
The UN’s top court in The Hague, the Netherlands, on Friday, said Israel must “take all measures” to limit the death and destruction, prevent and punish incitement to genocide, and ensure access to humanitarian aid.
South Africa had accused Israel of violating international laws on genocide, written in the wake of the Holocaust, and wanted the court order for Israel to cease fire in Gaza.
Friday’s hearing at ICJ at The Hague was the first time the judges have issued a ruling as part of the case began two weeks ago.
The court did not call for a halt to Israel’s military action, but South Africa had asked it to do.
What did the court rule?
The court ordered Israel to abstain from any acts that could violate the Genocide Convention and to ensure that Israeli troops do not commit genocidal activities in Gaza.
The verdict requires Israel to prohibit and punish any public encouragement to commit genocide against Palestinians in Gaza, as well as to maintain evidence of any charges of genocide.
Israel must also take steps to improve the humanitarian conditions for Palestinian inhabitants in the enclave.
Was the verdict supported by all judges?
At least 15 out of 17 judges exercised votes for imposing the so-called provisional measures. The court adopted Judge Julia Sebutinde of Uganda was the only one to vote against all six measures. Israel’s ad hoc judge voted against four measures.
What is the genocide convention?
The Genocide Convention of 1948 was formed in response to the Nazi Holocaust’s mass murder of Jews. It defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.
Acts of genocide include killing members of the group, causing substantial bodily or mental harm to members of the group, and purposefully imposing circumstances of existence calculated to bring about the annihilation of the group in whole or in part.