The International Court of Justice does not call for a ceasefire: “Hamas free the hostages”
Israel must stop the genocide in Gaza and encourage the flow of aid to the civilian population. Hamas must release the hostages kidnapped in the attack on 7 October 2023. The International Court of Justice, the highest legal body of the United Nations, expressed its opinion following the complaint lodged by South Africa against the Jewish State in relation to the offensive which began in October.
The Court, which did not call for a ceasefire, called on Israel to do everything possible to prevent acts of genocide in the Gaza Strip. The country, according to the decision on precautionary measures, must do everything to “prevent the commission of any act falling within the scope” of the Genocide Convention.
Israel must take “all measures within its power to prevent and punish direct and public incitement to commit genocide”, said Judge Joan E. Donoghue, president of the ICJ. The judges also expressed serious concern about the fate of the hostages in Hamas hands and called for their immediate release.
The Court then asked Israel to return to The Hague in a month to present evidence of its commitment to preventing genocide in the Gaza Strip. The judges ordered the adoption of “immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance that Palestinians urgently need to address the adverse living conditions faced.”
The president began reading the first ruling on the urgent measures requested against Israel by South Africa. At this stage, the International Court of Justice rules on urgent measures, before considering the case on its merits, a process that can take years. The lawsuit was brought by South Africa, which claims Israel is violating the 1948 United Nations Genocide Convention, established in the aftermath of World War II and the Holocaust.
In essence, the Court’s decision calls for fewer victims among the civilian population and more aid for the besieged Palestinians but does not make any requests for a ceasefire.
The Gaza Strip is an ”extremely vulnerable situation” where there is ”a real risk” that the ”catastrophic situation could worsen”. Because ”hundreds of thousands of people live in inhumane conditions” and ”it will take years for an entire generation of traumatized children to recover,” said Donoghue, underlining that ”people are threatened every day” and that ”health facilities are being put under attack”.
Israel’s response, through the words of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, was very harsh. “Israel’s commitment to international law is unshakable. Equally unshakable is our sacred commitment to continue to defend our country and to defend our people,” Netanyahu said in an English-language video posted online.
“The cowardly attempt to deny Israel this fundamental right – he underlined – is blatant discrimination against the Jewish State, and has been rightly rejected. The charge of genocide leveled against Israel is not only false, it is outrageousand honest people everywhere should reject it.”
Stressing that Hamas is a “genocidal” organization, Netanyahu said Israel’s war is against “terrorists, not against Palestinian civilians,” adding that Hamas vowed to repeat the “atrocities” of October 7 “again and again Still”. Despite the war, “we will continue to facilitate humanitarian assistance and do our best to keep civilians out of harm’s way, even as Hamas uses civilians as human shields.”
On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, “I pledge once again as prime minister of Israel, Never again,” he said, vowing to “continue to do what is necessary to defend our country and defend our people.” . Furthermore, the Israeli prime minister promised to continue fighting “until total victory, until we defeat Hamas, return all the prisoners and ensure that Gaza will no longer be a threat to Israel”.
Hamas and the appeal to the international community
Hamas in a statement called on the international community to force Israel to implement the decisions of the Court of Justice international. Hamas, ‘Al Jazeera’ reports, praised South Africa’s position and its support for the Palestinian people, the justice of its cause and its attempt to repel the aggression.
Hamas thanked all the countries that expressed support for South Africa’s initiative and “looks forward to the Court’s final decisions convicting Israel of war crimes and crimes against humanity.”
“The judges of the International Court of Justice evaluated the facts and the law. They ruled in favor of humanity and international law”, said the Foreign Minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) Riyad al-Maliki who expressed gratitude for the provisional measures imposed by the Court. “The sentence of the International Court of Justice – he underlined – breaks the deep-rooted Israeli culture of crime and impunity, which characterized its decades-long occupation, expropriation, persecution and apartheid in Palestine”.
Al-Maliki called on all states to ensure the implementation of the provisional measures, stressing that this is a binding legal obligation for Israel.